Fracture

A fracture is usually termed as a bone fracture. A fracture is a broken bone, considered as a medical condition in which there is an impairment occurring in the continuity of the bone. The damage to the bone can range from a small crack to a complete break that can be in a single place or several places.

Bone is a part of the vertebral skeleton. There are different types of bones such as long, short, flat, irregular, and sesamoid bones. All the bones have a similar function which is to support and protect various organs of the body. Bone marrow produces red blood cells. Bone specialists, medically known as orthopedic surgeons treat fractures.

Symptoms

The fracture symptoms include:

  • Severe pain associated with swelling, bruising, or redness at the affected site
  • Bleeding if adjacent blood vessels are damaged
  • Inability to move the affected bone
  • Change in angulation of bone, the affected bone will bend in an unusual angle

Some individuals may also feel sickness, along with nausea and dizziness whereas some individuals faint and collapse. Symptoms of fracture also depend on the severity of the fracture, damage to adjacent structures such as nerves, blood vessels, and skin.

Risk factors

Advancing age weaken the bones making it susceptible to fracture. Other conditions such as osteoporosis (a condition in which there will be low bone mass and loss of bone tissue), physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol intake, and use of corticosteroids make a bone more liable to fractures.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a fracture includes the use of imaging tests such as X-ray, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Your doctor can identify the type and exact location of fracture with the help of X-ray. Other scans are used for further examination.

Complications

The complications of a bone fracture include:

  • Non-union – failure of bone to heal
  • Mal-union – bone fracture healing in a wrong position
  • Osteomyelitis – infection of bone or bone marrow, occurs mostly in cases of compound fracture where the bone protrudes out of the skin
  • Compartment syndrome – ischemia of affected area because of increased pressure in an enclosed space; may result in amputation if left untreated
  • Avascular necrosis – bone death if there is loss of blood supply

The complications may be immediate, early, or late that may be seen if the fracture is left untreated. Immediate complications are hypovolemic shock, injury to major blood vessels and muscles. Early complications are infection and compartment syndrome. Late complications are osteomyelitis, joint stiffness, avascular necrosis, non-union, and mal-union.

Fracture first-aid

When you or someone has fracture, takes these actions while waiting for medical help

  • Apply pressure on the wound with a sterile bandage, to stop the bleeding if any
  • Don’t move or push the injured area
  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and relieve pain
  • If the person faints or has shortness of breath, lay the person down by placing the head lower than the trunk and elevate the legs, if possible

Open and closed fractures are the two types of bone fractures.

  • Open fracture: It is also called as compound fracture as the broken bone tears the skin and protrudes out.
  • Closed fracture: It is also called as simple fracture as the broken bone doesn’t cause the destruction of the overlying skin.

These two fracture types are equally severe and require medical attention immediately.

Fractures are also classified as complete and incomplete based on the crack occurred in the bone. In the case of an incomplete fracture, bone doesn’t break completely whereas in a complete fracture the bone completely separates by breaking into two or more pieces. If the bone breaks into several pieces, then it is said to be comminuted fracture.

Fractures are also termed as transverse, spiral, oblique, impacted, or compressed based on the pattern of bone break.

The treatment of a fracture involves immobilizing the bone, putting it into proper position, and allowing it to heal. The treatment depends on the type of fracture.

Immobilization

Bone healing occurs automatically as it is a natural process. So, providing some time to heal is necessary. For that case, we need to keep the bone immobilized for a certain amount of time. Immobilization of bone is done by using a cast. The cast is made of plastic or fiberglass and keeps the bone in position until it is healed.

Medications

Medications such as analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given to treat pain.

Surgery

Your doctor prefers surgery if above methods fail to heal or lead to a poor functional outcome or if the fracture is complex or compound.

  • Internal fixation – also called as open fixation; the bone is repositioned and immobilized using metal plates and screws
  • External fixation – the bone is repositioned using metal pins, connecting rods, and clamps
  • Bone grafting – natural or synthetic bone is transplanted in the place of affected bone

Physiotherapy

Your doctor may recommend physiotherapy after healing. This therapy helps to improve muscle strength and prevent permanent stiffness.

You can prevent easy breakage of bones by following the tips like:

  • Calcium is required for healthy growth of bones. So, consume foods rich in calcium such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium. Exposure to sunlight for some time daily and consuming foods containing vitamin D (eggs) can aid in bone development.
  • Performing weight-bearing exercises can strengthen bones. Other physical activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, and skipping can keep your bones healthy. Elderly people are recommended to perform mild exercises as the bones weaken due to reduced mass.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake as these are the common risk factors for any illness.