Complications of traditional bonesetting in contemporary fracture care in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review

Ndubuisi O. Onyemaechi, William Nii Ayitey Menson, Xan Goodman, Samantha Slinkard, Obinna E. Onwujekwe, Ugochukwu N. Enweani, Okechukwu E. Nwankwo, Benedict C. Nwomeh, Fiemu E. Nwariaku, Echezona E. Ezeanolue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To provide an overview of the evidence on the prevalence and pattern of complications among patients treated by traditional bonesetting presenting for modern orthopaedic services in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Methods: Systematic review following PRISMA guidelines. Articles were identified by searching PubMed, Embase, ScienceDirect, SCOPUS, and Web of Science using the keywords “fracture care”, “traditional bonesetters” and “complications”. Papers included for review were original articles set in an LMIC that directly reported the prevalence and pattern of musculoskeletal complications of traditional bonesetters’ fracture treatment in LMIC settings. Results: A total of 176 papers were screened for eligibility and 15 studies were finally included. Nine were prospective studies, six were retrospective studies. All were hospital-based, observational studies that investigated the outcomes of treatment of fractures by traditional bonesetters published between 1986 and 2018. In total, this review covers 1389 participants with 1470 complications of fracture treatment. Conclusion: Traditional bonesetting complications are associated with significant morbidity. However, traditional bonesetters have the potential to contribute positively to primary fracture care when they are trained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1377
Number of pages11
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • complications
  • fractures
  • low- and middle-income countries
  • traditional bonesetters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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