Health A-Z

Understanding Bone Fractures

A bone fracture is the discontinuity of a bone's original structure. In other words, you can refer to a bone structure as a broken bone. There are multiple types of bone fractures. Regardless of the severity of the bone breakage, any loss of continuity of a bone is referred to as a fracture, whether it's a simple crack or a complete shatter of the bone structure.

Bone fractures are known to change the shape of the bone. They can happen along the length of the bone across the bone. A fracture can also split a bone into two or shatter it into many pieces. It all depends on the kind of impact that an individual comes against.

Too painful!


Fracture vs. Crack

There is no difference between a bone fracture and a bone crack. A bone crack is a mild type of bone structure caused by minimal force imposed on the bone that causes tiny breakage. Bone cracks can be challenging to detect, sometimes not even possible through an x-ray. However, if the same spot is impacted with force, it can cause further breakage and become a more extensive fracture.

Bone fracture is more of a professional term, and that's why many people think it's a severe condition while it can be as simple as a crack. But there’s no simplicity of a discontinuity of a bone as immediate attention is required to sort out the issue before it develops into other conditions such as arthritis.

Causes of Bone Fractures

Bones are very resilient and can withstand powerful impacts. Despite how strong bones are, they are vulnerable to breakage. Bones break because they come up against a force stronger than the one that holds the structure together. This is in the form of a case such as a car accident. Moreover, repetitive pressure can cause breakage. An excellent example of this is running. These types of fractures are called stress fractures.

There are several causes of bone fractures, and some are not all about the impact. For instance, there are health conditions such as osteoporosis that weaken the bone structure. This makes an individual more prone to bone fractures because they have weaker bones. This severe condition weakens bones and is more likely to happen in the old age group.

So, who can get bone fractures? Anyone is at risk of bone breakages. The risk might be more for the forks in sports, car races, or those with osteoporosis, but anyone faced with a fracture-friendly incident is at high risk of losing the connectivity of their bone.

Symptoms of Bone Fractures

So, what alarms you that you have a bone fracture? Every type of bone fracture has its symptoms. Practically, you'll feel a difference when you break your finger, arm, hip, or leg. However, the most common symptoms of bone fractures include;

·       Visual different - An unusual or abnormal twist, bump, bruising, bleeding, or bend on the fractured area

·       Functionality - The difficulty is using the part or inability to put weight on the affected region, especially for the arms and legs, as there is severe pain involved

·       Inflammation - Swelling or discolored skin on the broken region after the impact.

Fracture visual representation


Primary Classification of Bone Fractures

There are many types of bone fractures. Each fracture has a variation in its severity. The major classifications include;

1.     Open fracture - This is a type of fracture where the bone breaks open through the skin, and you can see breakage and severity of the condition.

2.     Closed fracture - This is a type of fracture that is internal where you can feel the impact, but you cannot see the bones. However, a change in bone structure can be noted.

3.     Partial fracture - This is a type of fracture where the bone doesn't break completely.

4.     Complete fracture - This type of fracture involves completely separating the bone into two sides. It's more common on arms and legs.

5.     Displaced fracture - This type of fracture has a gap between the broken ends of the bone, and surgery is required to treat this type of breakage.

6.     Stable fracture - This type of fracture has the broken ends of the bone still intact, and they haven't moved from the original bone structure.

Other Types of Bone Fractures

While there are some common types of bone fractures, these breakages can further be classified into multiple different groups. Other types of bone fractures include;

       i.         Spiral fracture - A fracture where the breakage spirals around the bone.

     ii.         Stress fracture - A fracture where the bone gets a crack inside it from the impact.

    iii.         Transverse fracture - A fracture where the breakage happens in a straight line across the bone.

    iv.         Greenstick fracture - A fracture where the bone breaks and bends but doesn't completely separate from the other. It's more common in kids.

     v.         Oblique fracture – A fracture where the breakage occurs diagonally across the bone.

    vi.         Compression fracture - A type of fracture where a bone is flattened or crashed.

   vii.         Segmental fracture - A type of fracture where the same bone breaks twice, leaving an island part in between.

 viii.         Impacted fracture - A type of fracture where bones get driven together.

    ix.         Avulsion fracture - A type of fracture where a ligament or tendon pulls off a part of the bone. Tendons attach muscles to bones, and ligaments connect bones to bones.

     x.         Comminuted fracture - A type of fracture where the bone shatters into multiple different pieces.

Shoulder fracture x-ray


Testing and Treatment of Bone Fractures

While visual diagnosis is the most common way to detect a bone structure, further tests are required to determine the type and severity of a bone fracture. The known methods of testing a bone structure include;

a.     X-rays - Show a two-dimensional image of the break.

b.     Bone scans - Are used to find the bone fractures that x-rays cannot detect.

c.     CT scan - Used to detect a clear picture of the cross-sections and slices of the broken bones.

d.     MRIs - Create an extensive detailed image of the fracture using magnetic fields.

Many bone fractures are treated with a cast or a splint. A cast wraps the fracture with hard protection to allow it time to heal without external disturbance. On the other hand, a splint protects one side of the fracture for support. These methods immobilize the broken bone and straighten it to allow the bone to grow back together and heal.

Other treatment methods include putting you in traction, where weights and pulleys stretch the tendons and muscles around the bone. For minor fractures such as broken fingers, stainless steel plates, screws, frames, or fixators might be used to help in the healing process. Another straightforward treatment method is to avoid the fractures as much as possible. You can do this by avoiding falls, staying fit, eating right, and having regular checkups, especially for sportspersons.

It takes an average of 6 to 8 weeks to recover from a bone fracture. Bone fractures are also associated with bone fractures. They include blood clots, cast-wearing complications, compartment syndrome, and hemarthrosis. You should immediately contact your local bone fracture specialist once you suspect that you might be having a bone fracture.

Reach out to ArabiaMD doctors for all your bone fracture issues.

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