FRACTURES

Medical term for a broken bone. Occurs when the physical force exerted on the bone is stronger than the bone itself.

Risk of fracture depends, in part, on your age. Broken bones are very common in childhood, although children’s fractures are generally less complicated than fractures in adults. As you age, your bones become more brittle and you are more likely to suffer fractures from falls that would not occur when you were young.

May present with:

  • Swelling or bruising over a bone
  • Deformity of an arm or leg
  • Pain in the injured area that gets worse when the area is moved or pressure is applied
  • Loss of function in the injured area
  • In open fractures, bone protruding from the skin

Main Categories

  • Displaced
    • Bone snaps into two or more parts and moves so that the two ends are not lined up straight
  • Non-displaced
    • Bone cracks either part or all of the way through, but does move and maintains its proper alignment
  • Open
    • Bone breaks through the skin; it may then recede back into the wound and not be visible; risk of a deep bone infection
  • Closed
    • Bone breaks but there is no puncture or open wound in the skin

Examples of fractures are:

  • Greenstick fracture is an incomplete fracture in which the bone is bent which occurs more often in children.
  • A transverse fracture is when the broken piece of bone is at a right angle to the bone’s axis.
  • An oblique fracture is when the break has a curved or sloped pattern.
  • A comminuted fracture is when the bone breaks into several pieces.
  • A buckled fracture, also known as an impacted fracture, is one whose ends are driven into each other. This is commonly seen in arm fractures in children.
  • A pathologic fracture is caused by a disease that weakens the bones.
  • A stress fracture is a hairline crack.

Fracture severity depends on:

  • Location
  • Damage done to surrounding bone and tissue

Serious fractures can have dangerous complications if not treated promptly such as damage to blood vessels or nerves and infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or surrounding tissue.

Recuperation time varies depending on the age and health of the patient and the type of fracture. A minor fracture in a child may heal within a few weeks; a serious fracture in an older person may take months to heal.

DIAGNOSIS

Physician may do/request:

  • History & Physical Exam
  • X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Bone Scan
  • Angiogram

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Medications:

  • Painkillers
  • Antibiotics

Often requires emergency treatment at a hospital. If you think that bones may be broken in the back, neck, or hip, do not move the person; instead, call for emergency medical assistance.

Before transporting the person, protect the injured area to avoid further damage:

  • Application of a splint which may be made of wood, plastic, metal, or another rigid material padded with gauze to the affected area to stabilize it; wrap splint with gauze or bandage.
  • If bleeding is present, pressure must be applied before splinting and affected area must elevated.

Setting fractured in their proper place and held there in order to heal properly is called reduction. Doing so without surgery is “closed reduction.” Serious fractures may require open reduction — repositioning using surgery and devices such as pins, plates, screws, rods, or glue may be used used to hold the fracture in place. Open fractures must also be cleaned thoroughly to avoid infection.

After reduction, most fractures are immobilized with a cast, splint, or, occasionally, traction to reduce pain and help healing

Rehabilitation begins as soon as possible, even if the bone is in a cast. This promotes blood flow, healing, maintenance of muscle tone, and helps prevent blood clots and stiffness.

After the cast or splint is removed, the area around the fracture usually is stiff for several weeks with swelling and bumps which generally appear after a few weeks. Once the cast or splint is removed you should gradually begin using the area again. It may take another four to six weeks for the bone to regain past strength. Consult your doctor what activity type and intensity is safe for you, based on your fracture and overall health

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