What is a Fracture?
The quick answer in medical terminology for a broken bone is a fracture. Fractures are quite common and can happen to all people under the proper circumstances. Although bones do have some give and are able to take a great deal of pressure, too much pressure and the bone will eventually break. There are many types of fractures, but the most common are as follows; closed, open, displaced, and non-displaced. This article will not only describe the types of fractures, but also causes, symptoms, and what to do if you suspect to have a fracture.
Image of a cast for a fracture
Common Types of Fractures
- Closed: A fracture that does not break the skin and result in an open wound.
- Can be used to describe many fractures.
- Open: A fracture that punctures through the skin leaving a wound.
- This fracture can be dangerous due to increase in risk of infection around the wound and in the bone itself.
- Displaced: A fracture where the bone is broken into two or more parts and the bones are not aligned.
- Comminuted fracture: The bone is shattered into many pieces.
- Non-Displaced: A fracture where the bone breaks part way or all the way through, but remains aligned.
There are specific kinds of fractures that fit into the above categories. They depend on how the break occurred and what the fracture literally looks like.
Image of types of fractures
- Greenstick: These are incomplete fractures where the bone is not actually separated in two pieces, but splintered.
- These happen in children due to their bones being more flexible than rigid.
- Like trying to break a living branch off of a tree.
- Segmental: A fracture where the bone is separated in two places and there is a piece floating between the two larger pieces of bone.
- Oblique: A fracture where the break is more diagonal across the bone and not straight across.
- Compression: This type of fracture occurred from a crushing force which causes the bone to be flatter at the bottom.
- Spiral: These fractures usually occur from a twisting injury and the break literally spirals around the bone
- Transverse: This fracture is in a straight line across the bone.
- Growth Plate: These are fractures that occur at the joint.
- These can result in shorter bone length in children.
- Pathological: These can fit into many of the types of fractures listed above, but are simply caused by a disease that weakens the bone.
- Stress: This is a hairline crack in a bone.
Causes and Symptoms of Fractures
Bones can absorb a lot of force, but when there is more force applied that the bone allows, naturally it will break. There are many ways to fracture a bone but the most common are from falls, trauma, or a direct blow to the body. Depending on the person and their health, some fractures can be more dangerous than others and life-threatening if not taken care of in a timely manner.
Each individual may have different reactions to fractures, but the following are the most common:
- Pain around the injured area.
- Swelling and discoloration in the area.
- Deformity from the injury.
- Not being able to use the joint properly, or at all.
- Bruising, warmth, or general redness in the area.
- Bone sticking through the skin with a visible wound.
What to do if a Fracture is Suspected
If you believe you have a fracture, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor to determine your diagnosis. Some fractures can be life-threatening and going to an emergency room is highly encouraged. The doctor will do diagnostic tests, such as an x-ray, to determine if the bone is broken and stabilize the bone. From there, you may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon if more work is needed to allow for proper healing. Physical therapy is commonly used after surgery to recover. If you want to learn more about fractures, go to: fracture vs break.
JOI Fracture and Injury Care
JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000, schedule online or click the link below.
By: Jared Ernest PT