Skip to Content



Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is surgery to fix a fractured (broken) bone. Medical plates, rods, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.



You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your how to take this medicine safely.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your wound checked and stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Ask about activity. Do not lift heavy objects. Ask when you can return to your daily activities and go back to work.
  • Use support devices as directed. You may need to use crutches, a cane, or a walker if you had ORIF surgery on your leg or foot. It is important to use crutches or a walker correctly. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about how to use these walking devices.
  • Ask when you can bathe. When you are allowed to bathe, cover your cast or splint with 2 plastic bags. Tape the bags to your skin or use rubber bands to keep the water out. Keep the cast or splint out of the water so it does not get wet. If you do not have a cast or splint, carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Pat the area dry and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
  • Elevate your limb as directed. Raise your leg or arm above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg or arm on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Ice the fractured area as directed. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your fractured area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Cast or splint care:

If you have a cast or splint, do the following:

  • Check the skin around the cast or splint every day. Apply lotion on any red or sore areas.
  • Do not push down or lean on any part of the cast or splint. It may break or move the injured area.
  • Do not scratch the skin under the cast with any sharp or pointed object inside the cast.
  • If your splint is too tight, gently loosen it so that your fingers or toes are comfortable.

Call 911 if:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, or have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have severe pain, even after you take medicine.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your cast or splint breaks.
  • You cannot move your fingers or toes.
  • You have tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your cast or splint gets wet or begins to smell.
  • Your bandage or cast feels too tight or too loose.
  • You have a lot of itching under your cast or splint.
  • Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.