Locking Plates in Fracture Healing

The Role and Functioning of Locking Plates in Fracture Healing: A Revolution in Bone Repair

Fractures can be debilitating injuries, significantly impacting mobility and daily life. Fortunately, medical advancements have provided innovative solutions to aid in the healing process. One such advancement is the development of orthopedic locking plates, which have revolutionized the treatment of bone fractures, offering several advantages over traditional methods. Not only the locking plates but advancements have been noticed in the overall orthopedic industry. Be it improvements in orthopedic implants or advanced surgical techniques, there has been a significant change on the positive side in the last few decades. 

Before we dive into the role of locking plates, let us have a brief look at the limitations of the traditional methods that were used for fracture repair. 

Traditional Methods: Limitations and Complications

Before the introduction of locking plates, treatment for fractures primarily relied on casts and non-locking plates. While these methods can effectively immobilize the fracture site, they come with some limitations:

Limited Stability

Traditional methods struggle to maintain consistent and optimal pressure at the fracture site, particularly for complex or unstable fractures. This instability can hinder bone formation and potentially lead to non-union, where the broken bones fail to heal properly.

Complications Associated with Casting

Casts can be uncomfortable, restricting movement and potentially causing skin irritation or pressure sores. Additionally, regular X-ray monitoring is often necessary, requiring repeated cast removal and application, which can be inconvenient for patients.

Difficulties in treating osteoporotic fractures: Traditional methods can be less effective in individuals with weakened bones due to osteoporosis, making fracture fixation challenging.

Locking Plates: Promoting Better Healing

Locking plates offer a significant leap forward in addressing these limitations. These specialized devices consist of a metal plate affixed to the bone using bone screws. However, unlike traditional plates, locking plates employ a unique mechanism:

Locking Screws

These screws possess threads along their entire length and the head. They engage with corresponding threaded holes within the locking plates. This mechanism allows for angular stability, meaning the screws lock into the plate at a specific angle, preventing unwanted movement at the fracture site.

Compression Capability

Locking plates often incorporate features for compression, where the screws can be tightened to compress the bone fragments together, promoting optimal healing conditions. These plates prevent over-tightening.

This combination of locking screws and compression functionality offers several benefits:

Enhanced Stability

Locking plates provide superior fixation compared to traditional methods, minimizing micromotion (tiny movements) at the fracture site. This reduced movement creates a more favorable environment for bone healing and reduces the risk of non-union.

Improved Patient Outcomes

By promoting faster and more stable healing, locking plates can help patients regain mobility and function quickly. Additionally, the reduced micromotion can minimize pain and discomfort.

Better Treatment of Complex Fractures

Locking plates offer greater versatility in treating various fracture types, including complex fractures with multiple fragments, unstable fractures prone to displacement, and fractures in osteoporotic bone.

Minimally invasive surgery

In certain cases, locking plates can be employed with minimally invasive surgical techniques, leading to smaller incisions, reduced tissue damage, and potentially faster recovery times.

Application of Locking Plates

The effectiveness of locking plates lies in their intricate design and functionality:

Plate placement

The surgeon positions the plate on the bone surface, carefully aligning the fractured fragments.

Screw insertion

Screws are then drilled through the plate and into the bone fragments, ensuring proper alignment and compression.

Locking mechanism

The unique design of the screws allows them to lock into the threaded holes within the plate, preventing them from backing out and providing angular stability.


Depending on the plate design, specific screws might offer compression functionality. Tightening these screws compresses the bone fragments together, further promoting healing.

Additional Benefits of Locking Plates

While providing superior stability is their primary function, locking plates offer additional advantages:

Minimized Implant Prominence

Compared to traditional plates, locking plates can be designed with a lower profile, reducing tendon and soft tissue irritation and improving patient comfort.

Potential for Earlier Mobilization

The enhanced stability provided by locking plates can allow for earlier and controlled mobilization in certain cases, promoting faster functional recovery.

Reduced Risk of Hardware Failure

Due to the locking mechanism and improved design, locking plates may be less susceptible to breakage or bending compared to traditional plates.

Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Despite their numerous advantages, it’s important to understand that locking plates are not a universal solution for all fractures. The choice of treatment method ultimately depends on several factors, including:

Type and Severity of the Fracture

Simple fractures may be effectively managed with non-surgical methods or traditional plates, while complex or unstable fractures might necessitate the use of locking plates.

Patient’s Overall Health

Age, overall health, and bone quality are crucial considerations. Younger individuals with robust bone health might benefit more from early mobilization facilitated by locking plates.

Surgeon’s Expertise

Choosing the appropriate plate type and its proper placement during surgery requires specialized training and experience.

It’s crucial to remember that seeking professional medical advice is essential before any treatment decision regarding bone fractures. 

Locking plates are fundamental when it comes to addressing severe and complex fractures. They have been proven effective with an excellent success rate. With the pattern of continuous advancements in the field of orthopedics, we shouldn’t be surprised to see more improvements in the locking plate technology and other trauma implants. 

Siora Surgicals Pvt. Ltd., a renowned orthopedic manufacturer, is known for maintaining an updated inventory of a CE-certified range of orthopedic devices. The company stays abreast with advancing technology and fulfils the requirements of the clients. Siora manufactures hundreds of types of trauma implants and instruments including locking plates and screws, variable angle plates, titanium spine implants, hip replacement devices, and more. 

In over 30 years of service, Siora has served hundreds of clients in over 50 countries and it keeps looking to stretch its boundaries by finding more distributors around the world. With an in-house production unit, the company is also praised for being a trustworthy OEM service provider in the world.