Fracture is a medical condition where the continuity of the bone / cartilage is broken and treatment plan depends on the type of fracture and location. Most fractures happen when a bone is impacted by more force or pressure than it can support. Fractures can be simple / compound / comminuted and may be associated with single bone /multiple bone fractures ( polytrauma ).
Most fractures are accompanied by intense pain when the initial injury occurs. It may become worse when you move or touch the injured area.
Other potential symptoms of a fracture include:
In some cases, you may see broken bone poking through your skin.
If you suspect you have a fracture, seek medical help immediately.
Fractures can be classified as closed or open, as well as incomplete or complete.
A closed fracture is also called a simple fracture. In a closed fracture, the broken bone doesn’t break your skin.
An open fracture is also called a compound fracture. In an open fracture, the ends of the broken bone tear your skin. When your bone and other internal tissues are exposed, it puts you at higher risk of infection.
In an incomplete fracture, your bone doesn’t break completely. In other words, it cracks without breaking all the way through. Types of incomplete fracture include:
In a complete fracture, your bone breaks completely. It’s snapped or crushed into two or more pieces. Types of complete fracture include:
Incomplete fractures are more common in children. Their bones are softer than those of adults. As a result, they’re more likely to bend than break. Complete fractures can happen at any age.
You can develop a fracture when your bone is impacted with greater pressure or force than it can support. This force usually occurs suddenly or is very intense. The strength of the force determines the severity of the fracture.
Anyone can be experience a fracture. But you’re more likely to develop one if you have brittle bones, or low bone density. You’re more likely to develop brittle bones if you:
If you’re diagnosed with a fracture, the treatment plan will depend on its type and location.
In general, your doctor will try to put the broken bone pieces back into their proper positions and stabilize them as they heal. It’s important to keep pieces of broken bone immobile until they’re mended. During the healing process, new bone will form around the edges of the broken pieces. If they’re properly aligned and stabilized, the new bone will eventually connect the pieces.
Your doctor may use a cast to stabilize your broken bone. Your cast will likely be made from plaster or fiberglass. It will help keep the injured area stabilized and prevent broken bone pieces from moving while they heal.
In rare cases, you may need traction to stabilize the injured area. Traction stretches the muscles and tendons around your bone. Your doctor will administer it using a system of pulleys and weights positioned in a metal frame over your bed. This system will produce a gentle pulling motion that your doctor can use to stabilize the injured area.
For more complex or compound fractures, you may need surgery. Your doctor may use open reduction, and internal fixation or external fixation to keep your bones from moving.
In open reduction and internal fixation, your doctor will first reposition or “reduce” the pieces of broken bone into their normal alignment. Then they will connect or “fix” the broken bone. This occurs by using screws, metal plates, or both. In some cases, your doctor may insert rods through the center of your bone. These foreign material may or may not require removal (implant removal) at a later date. Some fractures near the joint lead to dislocation / arthritis of the joint resulting in stiffness which may require further surgery.
In external fixation, your doctor will put pins or screws into your bone above and below the fracture site. They will connect these pins or screws to a metal stabilizing bar positioned on the outside of your skin. The bar will hold your bone in place as it heals.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication to control pain, fight infection, or manage other symptoms or complications. After the initial treatment stages, they may recommend physical therapy or other strategies to help you regain normal use.
If you experience a fracture, its location and severity will help determine how long it takes to heal. Your age and medical history can also affect your recovery process. Certain medical conditions may impair your body’s ability to mend broken bones.
It may take several weeks, or sometimes months, for your fracture to heal. In most cases, the pain will subside before the healing process is complete. You will likely need to restrict movement of the injured area while it mends. You may not be able to participate in some of your normal activities. You may also have to make adjustments to your routine, until you are healed.
Once your fracture is healed, you may be able to return to your normal activities and routine. In some cases, you may need physical therapy. This will help you to regain your normal use of the injured area. Immobilizing part of your body for a long period of time can cause you to lose muscle strength and range of motion. Physical therapy can help you recover more fully.
To promote your recovery, follow your doctor’s medical instructions closely.