Leg fractures (broken leg) differ depending on the location of the break, whether it is open or closed, its shape, and length of time it's been broken. The presence of any skin wounds is also important. Some chickens may require surgery, while others may only require bandaging/splinting and a period of rest and physical therapy. Any fractures which occur near a joint will usually result in decreased range of movement and normal leg function upon recovery.
Open fractures are more at risk of a secondary infection, resulting in osteomyelitis
. If fractures are properly aligned correctly by an avian veterinarian early on this will reduce the chances of them healing improperly. Most fractures will heal within 2 to 3 weeks.
Nonsurgical treatment methods include fracture stabilization (splint), rest, supportive care, and physical therapy.
Types of Splints
- Figure-of-eight wing bandages: This method is best used for fractures of the elbow or carpal joint, or in small or very young chicks. It is important not to apply this bandage too tight.
- Schroeder-Thomas Splint: This method is best used for fractures involving the tarsometatarsus (shank) and hock joint. It is developed from a wire or rod material, used to produce two right-angle bends next to the ring at the top of the splint, so that it runs parallel to the long axis of the leg.
- Robert Jones Bandage: This method is best used for simple fractures involving the hock joint. It required heavily padded leg bandages that can be used with or without additional splinting material. Materials used for an external coaptation device various, however to be effective, it must be firm enough to provide support, and can include human orthopedic molds (orthoplast, hexcelite), wood applicator sticks, tongue depressors, aluminum rods, or similar such material.
Leg fractures that alter weight-bearing in one or both feet can predispose the chicken to developing bumblefoot