Musculoskeletal injuries account for a huge volume of the work of emergency departments and operating theatres around Australia. They can range from simple sprains to life changing and life-threatening injuries. Prompt assessment and management is the key to optimal outcomes.


A fracture is a broken bone. A bone will break when excessive force is exerted on it, such as in a fall or a motor vehicle accident. With time and appropriate care, many fractures will heal. If the fracture cannot be treated conservatively (with a splint or cast) then surgery may be necessary to correct the normal anatomy and stability of the bone.


A dislocation is when a joint is forced out of its normal position. Prompt treatment with ‘reduction’ (re-locating the joint) is often sufficient treatment initially but physiotherapy is likely to be required to restore normal function. Sometimes, dislocation can result in ligament or cartilage tears that need to be repaired to restore joint stability and motion, or nerve injuries that require further treatment.