Living Healthy

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.


By Team ArabiaMD

 • 4 min read • 
Understanding Bone Fractures

Fracture vs. Crack

There is no difference between a bone fracture and a bone crack.

  • A bone crack is a mild type of bone fracture caused by minimal force on the bone, resulting in tiny breakage.
  • Bone cracks can be challenging to detect and may not even be visible on an X-ray.
  • If the same spot is impacted with force, it can cause further breakage and become a more extensive fracture.

A bone fracture is a more professional term, and that's why many people think it's a severe condition while it can be as simple as a crack. However, there is no simplicity in a bone discontinuity, as immediate attention is required to prevent the development of conditions such as arthritis.

Causes of Bone Fractures

Bones are very resilient but can still break when they come up against a force stronger than the one that holds the structure together.

  • Causes of bone fractures include:
    1. Impact from an accident or injury.
    2. Repetitive pressure, such as in the case of running, which can lead to stress fractures.
    3. Health conditions like osteoporosis, which weaken the bone structure and increase the risk of fractures.

While the risk of bone fractures may be higher for those involved in sports, car races, or with osteoporosis, anyone faced with a fracture-friendly incident is at high risk of bone integrity loss.

Symptoms of Bone Fractures

Primary Classification of Bone Fractures

There are many types of bone fractures, and each fracture has a variation in severity. The major classifications include:

  1. Open fracture
    • The bone breaks through the skin, making the breakage visible and the condition more severe.
  2. Closed fracture
    • An internal fracture where the bone structure may change but is not visible.
  3. Partial fracture
    • The bone doesn't break completely.
  4. Complete fracture
    • The bone is completely separated into two sides, more common in arms and legs.
  5. Displaced fracture
    • A gap is present between the broken ends of the bone, requiring surgery to treat.
  6. Stable fracture
    • The broken ends of the bone remain intact and have not moved from the original bone structure.

Other Types of Bone Fractures

Testing and Treatment of Bone Fractures

While visual diagnosis is common, further tests are required to determine the type and severity of a bone fracture. Tests may include:

a. X-rays - Two-dimensional images of the break. b. Bone scans - Detect bone fractures that X-rays cannot. c. CT scan - Provides a clear picture of the cross-sections and slices of the broken bones. d. MRIs - Create a 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.
  • A splint protects one side of the fracture for support.
  • These methods immobilize the broken bone and straighten it for healing.

Other treatment methods include 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 may be used. Avoiding fractures can also be achieved by avoiding falls, staying fit, eating right, and having regular checkups, especially for athletes.

The average recovery time for a bone fracture is 6 to 8 weeks. Bone fractures can also be associated with complications such as blood clots, cast-wearing complications, compartment syndrome, and hemarthrosis. If you suspect a bone fracture, it is essential to contact your local bone fracture specialist or ArabiaMD doctors for assistance.

Bone Health