If you require emergency medical attention, please call 911 to access your local emergency services.

What are fractures?

Orthopaedic trauma is a phrase used to describe the impact on bones, joints and nerves when someone experiences a traumatic event like a fall, a car accident or a gunshot wound. Orthopaedic trauma can also be used to describe the damage caused by severe osteoporosis and bone cancer that weakens bones to the point where they cannot sustain pressure.


A fracture is a broken bone that occurs when pressure exerted on the bone is more than it can withstand. Fractures can occur on any bone in the body. Northwestern Medicine treats fractures to the:

  • Arms and legs
  • Hands and feet, including fingers and toes
  • Pelvis
  • Ribs
  • Hips
  • Skull

Fractures to bones may be closed (simple) fractures where the bone does not break through the skin, or open (compound) fractures where the fracture causes internal or external wounds. The type of treatment depends on the type of fracture and how easily the bones can be fit back together to heal. Fractures are treated with immobilization or surgery:

  • Immobilization: Bone fragments are restored to their natural positions and kept in place using plaster or fiberglass casts and splints to immobilize the joints above and below the fracture. Bone healing occurs naturally in patients who are not compromised by nutritional deficiencies or bone health problems such as osteoporosis.
  • Surgery: Surgery is usually done when conservative treatment has failed, or if prolonged immobilization would raise the risk of pressure sores, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. Surgical treatment involves reinforcing the bones with metal rods and screws to hold them in place. Surgery is more often performed on hip and pelvis fractures than on limb fractures because of potential damage to internal organs and difficulty immobilizing the fracture.

Trauma specialists also take into account the type of separation, direction the fracture occurs on the bone, and how many fragments the bone has broken into:

  • Complete: The bone fragments separate completely.
  • Incomplete: The bone fragments are partially joined, and the fracture may not go all the way through the bone.
  • Linear: The bone is fractured along the long axis.
  • Transverse: The bone is broken along the short axis, parallel to the ground.
  • Oblique: A diagonal fracture.
  • Spiral: Part of the bone is twisted.
  • Comminuted: The bone has broken into several pieces.
  • Impacted: Bone fragments are driven into each other.
  • Avulsion: A tendon or ligament breaks away, along with the bone it is attached to.

Meet the Teams

Northwestern Medicine physician Dr. Tyler Koski performing neurosurgery.
The Northwestern Medicine orthopaedic trauma teams provide specialized treatment for fractures and trauma to bones, joints, and nerves in the hands, feet, arms, legs, pelvis, and spine.

Click here to learn more about the Center for Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Spine Care.

Specialists at the Center for Orthopaedic and Spine Care can also be seen at the following locations:

Northwestern Medicine River Forest
420 Thatcher Ave.
River Forest, IL 60305

Northwestern Medicine Elmhurst
1200 S. York Road
Elmhurst, IL 60126

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital offers comprehensive orthopaedic services and performs more orthopaedic surgeries for Lake County residents than any other hospital. More than 30 of Lake County's top orthopaedic surgeons practice at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, and many have specialized fellowship training. They perform leading-edge procedures both in Lake Forest and at the Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Surgery Center, including:

  • Ankle replacement
  • Anterior approach total hip replacement
  • Arthroscopic cartilage regeneration and reconstruction
  • Arthroscopic hip reconstruction
  • Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair
  • Cartilage repair, restoration and transplantation
  • Cervical disc replacement
  • Computer-guided customized knee replacement
  • Elbow disorders
  • Hand surgery
  • Hip replacements, total and partial
  • Knee replacements, total and partial
  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Minimally invasive knee replacement
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Orthobiologics (tissue engineering)
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Reconstruction of the knee, hip, shoulder, foot/ankle, back and hand
  • Shoulder reconstruction and replacement

To schedule an appointment please call 847.535.8500.

With first-rate technology, equipment and experienced staff, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital are uniquely qualified to provide specialized trauma care in Chicago’s western suburbs, including:

  • Advanced life support ambulance transfer service for timely transfer of critical patients
  • Helicopter landing site
  • Lab services in each emergency department for fast answers
  • Skilled, experienced staff:
    • Board-certified emergency medicine doctors on the medical staffs of Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital
    • Emergency department nurses, who have specialty training in trauma patient care
    • Board-certified trauma surgeons on the medical staffs of Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital, with an average of 14 years of experience each
    • 24-hour pediatric intensivist– a physician who specializes in treating critically ill children on the medical staff of CDH and Delnor Hospital
    • Other sub-specialists on the medical staffs of Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital as needed, including general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, cardiac surgeons and anesthesiologists
  • Spiritual care and supportive social workers
  • Timely surgical intervention
  • X-ray and CT scan in each emergency department for prompt diagnosis<

Level II Trauma Centers

You’ll find comfort and confidence in knowing that Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) and Delnor Hospital (Delnor) are regional leaders in providing emergency and trauma care, with several notable distinctions:

  • CDH is one of the first medical centers in Illinois to earn the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by the Joint Commission. CDH receives stroke patient transfers from more than 30 hospitals in Chicago’s western suburbs.
  • CDH and Delnor are two of only 61 Level II Trauma Centers in Illinois. Physician specialists on the medical staffs of CDH and Delnor are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week along with the skilled staff and advanced technology to handle acute critical care.
  • CDH is accredited as a Chest Pain Center with PCI. Your advanced heart care starts in the Emergency Department and continues with experienced and highly ranked heart care specialists.
  • CDH and Delnor treat more than 50,000 trauma patients each year.
  • The CDH Pediatric Emergency Department of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago* is IDPH Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics (EDAP) and is a Level II Trauma Center with advanced technologies in a child-focused environment.
Legal Information

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital is a collaborative program between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Lurie Children's and its affiliated physician groups. The physicians participating in this program are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.