What is a Fracture?
A fracture is an injury to a bone when the tissue of the bone is broken. There are many types of fractures. That's because a fracture is named by the bone involved, the part of the bone, and the description of the break. A complete fracture is a bone break that completely severs the bone across its width. When you hear about a complex fracture, that means that the soft tissue around the bone is extremely damaged. A fragmented fracture is fun, if you like puzzles. A fragment fracture results in many broken bone pieces. When the end of a broken bone tears through the skin, we have what you call a compound or open fracture. When a simple fracture occurs, the bone does not break the skin. Then we have the multiple fracture. A multiple fracture refers to a break in which there are several fracture lines in the bone. A multiple fracture may also mean, a fracture of several bones at one time or from the same injury.
Causes of fractures of healthy bones include incidents such as sporting injuries, vehicle accidents and falls. Overuse, is also a common cause of fracture. Repetitive motion can tire muscles and place more force on bone. This can result in stress fractures. Stress fractures are more common in athletes. As we get older, our bones usually become more brittle. Osteoporosis and some types of cancer can also cause the bones to fracture more easily.
Types of Fractures:
- Closed (simple) fracture – the skin remains intact and there is little damage to surrounding tissue.
- Open (compound) fracture – the broken bone protrudes through the skin or there is a wound that leads to the fracture site.
- Complicated fracture – in addition to the fracture, there is injury to the surrounding structures. There may be damage to the veins, arteries or nerves and there may also be injury to the lining of the bone (the periosteum).
Doctors use a variety of treatments to treat fractures:
- Functional Cast or Brace: The cast or brace allows limited or "controlled" movement of nearby joints. This treatment is desirable for some, but not all, fractures.
- Traction: Traction is usually used to align a bone or bones by a gentle, steady pulling action.
- External Fixation: In this type of operation, metal pins or screws are placed into the broken bone above and below the fracture site. The pins or screws are connected to a metal bar outside the skin. This device is a stabilizing frame that holds the bones in the proper position while they heal.
- Cast Immobilization: A plaster or fiberglass cast is the most common type of fracture treatment, because most broken bones can heal successfully once they have been re-positioned and a cast has been applied to keep the broken ends in proper position while they heal.