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Orthopedic Trauma

Our board-certified orthopedic trauma specialists see patients in the emergency room and also offer follow-up care.

Follow-Up Care for Orthopedic Injuries

If you went to urgent care or a hospital emergency department for an orthopedic injury, you will likely need to see a doctor again. Follow-up visits with one of our trauma specialists can help ensure your injury is healing properly. Next-day appointments with a fracture specialist are usually available.

Our specialists treat:

  • All simple and complex fractures (broken bones)
  • Joint dislocations
  • Ligament and tendon tears and ruptures
  • Infections and other complications from a previous fracture

We can refer you to physical therapy and other specialists at UC San Diego Health to make sure all aspects of your care and recovery are addressed.

UC San Diego Health accepts many insurance plans

Emergency Care for Orthopedic Injuries

If you have a serious injury, you should go to the ER. Your ER doctor will decide whether you need to be seen by an orthopedic trauma surgeon.

We have Emergency Departments at our hospitals in La Jolla and Hillcrest. At both locations, orthopedic trauma surgeons are:

  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to treat all types of traumatic orthopedic injuries. 
  • Able to treat all types of complex fractures, joint dislocations, and tendon and ligament tears

UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest is also a Level 1 Trauma Center, equipped and staffed to treat the most complex and urgent traumatic orthopedic injuries.

Treatment for Orthopedic Trauma Injuries

UC San Diego Health offers advanced diagnostic imaging and treatment for all types of orthopedic trauma injuries.

Casts, Braces, Splints

Many fractures and dislocations do not require surgery. They can be healed with casts, braces or splints. These include fractures of the clavicle, scapula, humerus, wrist, hand and foot. Many of these injuries can be treated at our Urgent Care clinics.

Minimally Invasive Surgery 

If you have suffered a complex or "bad" break or dislocation, surgery may be required. When possible, we use minimally invasive surgical techniques to speed recovery and reduce the risks of complications.

We perform minimally invasive surgeries for:

External Fixation

External fixation involves placing pins into bone and then connecting those pins to bars on the outside of the skin. This is often temporary. It is used when it’s unsafe to perform definitive surgery immediately. An example is in the case of periarticular fractures (those in and around joints), where soft tissue swelling may prevent early surgery from being done due to the risk of infection. Other types of external fixators (small wire fixators) are used for certain fractures (nonunions and malunions) and bone transplant.

Intramedullary Rodding

Intramedullary rodding is commonly used for fractures of the femur and tibia. This procedure is done with small incisions. It can allow patients to bear weight on the extremity soon after surgery. The rod is placed inside the canal of the bone. Then, screws are placed through the rod and bone to maintain limb alignment. Additional casting is not needed.

Plates and Screws

Plates and screws are most often used when a bone break is in or near a joint. This includes certain fractures of the shoulder, elbow, forearm, hip, knee and ankle. The bones are moved back into proper position. A plate with screws is then used to hold the fracture in place until it heals. Most often, additional casting is not needed. Patients can begin moving their joints soon after surgery. Our orthopedic surgeons are on the leading-edge of plating technology. We perform advanced minimally invasive plating techniques. These result in smaller scars, less soft-tissue problems and faster healing.

Appointments & Referrals

Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons

Emergency Services Locations

Follow-Up Care Clinics

La Jolla