A fracture is a common injury that can occur to any bone in the body. When a bone receives a force that’s too great to absorb, it breaks or fractures. Fractures typically result from a fall, physical activity, or a motor vehicle accident. However, other fracture causes include osteoporosis, which is a condition that weakens bones, and overuse caused by repetitive motion that tires out muscles and puts more stress on bones.
There are multiple types of fractures ranging from minor to severe, including the following:
- Greenstick: A greenstick fracture occurs when there’s a crack on one side of a bone that doesn’t go all the way through it.
- Complete: This type of fracture occurs when a bone is fully broken.
- Stress: This type of fracture, which is a hairline crack, typically occurs because of overuse.
- Stable: With a stable fracture, the broken ends of the bone are lined up and barely out of place. This type of fracture doesn’t require any type of realignment.
- Open, compound: An open, compound fracture occurs when the bone breaks through the skin or the force causes an open wound when the fracture occurs.
- Transverse: A transverse fracture has a horizontal fracture line.
- Oblique: An oblique fracture has an angled pattern.
- Comminuted: When this type of fracture occurs, the bone shatters into three or more pieces.
While there are multiple types of fractures that vary as far as their severity, they still all cause the same symptoms. If you have a fracture, you may experience the following:
- Swelling and tenderness around the injury
- Deformity if a limb is out of place or protruding through the skin
As soon as you notice these symptoms, be sure to seek medical assistance. If the pain is severe, you should go to the emergency room. When you visit your physician, he or she will perform a physical examination to identify the injury. You’ll also undergo X-rays to determine whether the bone is intact or broken. The X-rays can also determine what type of fracture has occurred and the exact location of the fracture.
Once the location and the type of injury have been determined, your doctor will decide what treatment method will work best to heal your fractured bones. The treatment method will depend on the severity and type of fracture. When your bones are fractured, they need to be held together in the correct position until they heal. In some cases, it’s necessary for the doctor the readjust the bones and put them back into the correct position. The most commonly used method to treat a fracture is cast immobilization. A plaster or fiberglass cast is applied to the fracture, keeping the ends of the bones in the proper position as they heal. In the most severe cases, such as an open fracture, where the bone breaks through the skin, surgery may be necessary.
For more information about fracture care, click here to download our free eBook,Understanding Fracture Care: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.