For over 70 years, orthopedics surgeons have been using stainless steel to hold broken bones together.  Surgery is often required to ensure proper healing, but is steel the only option.

ORIF alternatives to stainless steel in orthopedics

With the rise of nanotechnology and the breakthroughs in many areas of biotechnology, the current materials are being challenged for the first time by new advances.

A recent lab has developed screws made of silk (similar to that made by spiders and silk worms) which provides incredible strength (some devices are 5x stronger than steel, see this video) and has many advantages over current technology.  

However, before going further, we should highlight the fact that current materials, like stainless steel, are incredibly effective.  Stainless steel is coated so it doesnt rust, its very strong so it can be made with a low profile (very thin), and its nonreactive (our body doesnt register it as a foreign object, unlike say a splinter, which causes your finger to become red and swollen).

However, our muscle can sometimes rub against the metal plates or screws causing irritation.  Or people just dont like the idea of having metal inside their body.  A lot of the new technology, like screws made of silk (see the recent medical paper), has the advantage of being biodegradable (meaning: after our bone has healed, our body actual absorbs the screws so that it disappears completely).