Bones can break or fracture in many different ways and, according to WebMD, the average person has two fractures during a lifetime. External trauma causes most breaks, but some diseases like osteoporosis can weaken bones and lead to rarer pathologic fractures.
Bone fracture symptoms can be a minor inconvenience, or they can be life-threatening and take months or years to heal. Without proper treatment for broken bones, some people could experience permanent disabilities. If you think you have a break or fracture, it’s important to be seen by professionals like those at Downtown Urgent care right away.
Here is some more information on bone fracture types and treatments.
The most common causes of bone fractures are trauma, osteoporosis, and stress or repetitive motion fractures, which are common in athletes. Most fractures make moving the injured area painful. Other symptoms include:
The most common bone fractures occur in the arm, the collarbone, the toes, the foot, the ankle, the hand, the finger, the leg, the jaw, and the nose.
All fractures are either simple or compound. Simple or “closed” fractures don’t penetrate the skin, while more severe compound or “open” fractures expose bone or tissue. Bacteria can enter compound fractures and cause infections, so people with these injuries usually need antibiotics.
There are nine main types of bone fractures:
A comminuted fracture breaks a bone into three or more pieces.
A comminuted fracture is a break or splinter of the bone into more than two fragments. Since considerable force and energy is required to fragment bone, fractures of this degree occur after high-impact trauma such as in vehicular accidents.
A greenstick fracture is a break that happens on one side of a bone, from a force perpendicular to its long axis. These fractures only occur in children as their developing bones are more flexible, so they bend and break partially instead of breaking completely.
Most greenstick fractures occur in children younger than 10 years of age. This type of broken bone most commonly occurs in children because their bones are softer and more flexible than are the bones of adults.
Even mild greenstick fractures are usually immobilized in a cast. In addition to holding the cracked pieces of the bone together so they can heal, a cast can help prevent the bone from breaking all the way through if the child falls on it again.
Transverse fractures are similar to greenstick fractures, but they’re complete and not partial breaks.
The term is predominantly used in the context of fractures of long bones although other types of bones may have transverse fractures, e.g. transverse fracture of the temporal bone.
Transverse fractures of long bones are at risk of displacement, like any other long bone fracture.
An avulsion fracture is a small piece torn off the main bone. Accidents or overexertion can cause them.
This can occur at the ligament due to the application forces external to the body (such as a fall or pull) or at the tendon due to a muscular contraction that is stronger than the forces holding the bone together. Generally muscular avulsion is prevented due to the neurological limitations placed on muscle contractions. Highly trained athletes can overcome this neurological inhibition of strength and produce a much greater force output capable of breaking or avulsing a bone.
Oblique fractures are angled or curved, and they happen when a force comes from any angle but a right angle to the bone.
An oblique fracture is a relatively common fracture in which the bone breaks diagonally. Oblique fractures can vary in severity, depending on what bone is affected and how large the break is. Oblique fractures tend to occur on longer bones like the femur or tibia.
A strong twisting force can form a spiral fracture.
Spiral fractures often occur when the body is in motion while one extremity is planted. For example, a spiral fracture of the tibia, a bone in the lower leg, can occur in young children when they fall short on an extended leg while jumping. This occurrence is known as “toddler’s fracture.” Spiral fractures are also recognized as being suspicious in very young children since to obtain a fracture of this sort requires forceful twisting or jerking of the limbs. Child abuse (physical abuse) and certain conditions such as osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) are considered differentials when identifying spiral or torsion fractures.
A buckled or impacted fracture is a bone with the ends driven into each other. It’s common in arm fractures in kids.
Bone bruise treatment can be incorporated as soon as the location and extension of fracture is detected. A splint or a sling is needed to keep the fractured bone in place. Also, it prevents the mobility of the fractured bone’s sharp end, such that they do not drive further into other fragments. If there are several broken fragments, surgical steel plates, screws, pins, rods or wires are used to keep the fragments in place and inhibit further damage because of their movement.
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone.
This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. It’s often due to working too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.
Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.
In a stable fracture, the ends of the bone stay in the correct places.
Most flexion injuries–including stable burst fractures and osteoporotic compression fractures—can be treated with bracing for 6 to 12 weeks. By gradually increasing physical activity and doing rehabilitation exercises, most patients avoid post-injury problems.
Bone fractures start to heal very quickly, so the time immediately after a fracture is critical. A doctor will take an X-ray of a broken bone to find the type of fracture and reposition the broken bone if needed. The doctor can move the bone through the skin and add a cast or may use surgery for more severe fractures.
If you think you may have a fracture or broken bone, please visit us at our Urgent Care in Downtown Los Angeles. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. No appointment is needed and we are generally able to see patients much faster than hospital emergency rooms.