Injuries can get nasty, and more so if the injury involves broken bones. During times like this, knowing what to do prevents the situation from worsening and becoming an emergency.
What are Fractures?
Fractures are basically broken bones. These breaks in the bones can be either partial or complete. Furthermore, fractures can take place in different forms, depending on the amount of pressure that caused the breaking in the first place.
Fractures are a matter of medical emergency.
What causes Fractures?
Fractures are brought about by any intense or sudden impact or force on the bone. If the force or pressure applied is stronger than what the bone can support, the bone may reach its breaking point. This is when fractures take place.
The most common causes of fractures include:
- Direct hits or strikes to the body
- Participating in sports or other intense physical activity
- Traumatic incidents, like car accidents
What are the different types of Fracture?
Fractures can be categorised as closed or open and complete or incomplete depending on the outcome of injuries.
Closed and Open Fractures
Closed fractures are also referred to as simple fractures. If the broken bone does not penetrate or tear the skin, this is considered a closed fracture.
Open fractures, on the other hand, are also referred to as compound fractures. If a broken bone tears or penetrates the skin, this is classified as an open fracture.
Open fractures have a higher risk of infections due to the exposure of bones, and possibly, internal tissues as well.
Incomplete and Complete Fractures
An incomplete fracture means that the bone does not break all the way through. It may suffer some cracks, but the bone is still intact.
An incomplete fracture may take place in the form of:
- Hairline fracture, where there is a thin crack in the bone
- Greenstick fracture, where one side of the bone is broken while the other side is bent
- Buckle or torus fracture, where one side of the bone is broken while a bump develops on the other side.
Incomplete fractures commonly happen in children since their bones tend to be softer and are not fully developed as compared to adults.
A complete fracture means that the bone completely breaks. This could mean that it has snapped or has been crushed into pieces.
A complete fracture may take place in the form of:
- Single fracture, where the bone breaks in one place and into two pieces
- Comminuted fracture, where the bone breaks into three or more pieces
- Compression fracture, where the bone gives in or collapses because of pressure
- Nondisplaced fracture, where the bone is crushed into pieces that still remain in their normal alignment
- Displaced fracture, where the bone is crushed into pieces that move out of their normal alignment
- Segmental fracture, where the bone breaks in two places with one part of the broken bone floating and unattached
Complete fractures can happen to anyone, regardless of age.
How to tell if you have a Fracture
Assessing whether you or someone who is with you suffers from a fracture is not hard to do since there are a lot of noticeable signs.
In most incidents of fracture, intense pain can be noted with the onset of initial injuries. These injuries can get worse once the injured area is moved or touched. Losing consciousness can also happen in certain cases of fractures. Dizziness and feeling cold from shock can also be noted.
Other signs that fracture has occurred include:
- The sound of a snap when the injury takes place
- Swelling and bruising in the injured area
- Difficulting in providing support or handling weight using the injured area
- Noticeable deformity in the injured area
If it is an open fracture, you may be able to see a broken bone sticking out of or piercing the skin.
Who is more likely to experience Fractures?
Fractures can happen to anyone. However, certain factors place some people at a higher risk of suffering from fractures. These factors include brittle bones and low bone density. You may develop brittle bones based on these factors:
- Old age
- Endocrine and intestinal disorders
- Use or intake of corticosteroids
- Physical inactivity
- Alcohol intake
First-Aid Treatment for Fractures
Fractures that are brought about by major trauma or injuries are considered a medical emergency, so calling for local emergency services is the first thing anyone should do in this case.
You also need to call for emergency help when:
- The person becomes unresponsive, stops breathing, or stops moving
- Heavy and continuous bleeding takes place
- Gentle pressure or the slightest of movements easily cause pain
- The injured area appears deformed.
- The bone pierces the skin.
- The toes or the fingers of the injured arm or leg becomes numb or bluish
- If the broken bone is in the neck, head, or back
Once you are able to place a call to emergency services, here is what you can do while waiting for help to arrive.
- Don’t try to move the person unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, like in attempting to prevent any further injury.
- If the person is unconscious, is not breathing nor moving, prepare to perform CPR.
- If there is bleeding, try to stop it by applying pressure to the wound using a sterile bandage or a clean piece of cloth.
- Don’t attempt to realign or push the bone that is sticking out of the skin. If you are knowledgeable about splint application, you can apply a splint above and below the fracture site to immobilise the injured area.
- Use ice packs on the injured part to minimise swelling and alleviate pain.
- If the person appears fainting or is catching breaths, make sure to lay them down with their trunk in a slightly elevated position compared to the head. Elevate their legs as well, if this is possible.
Medical Treatment for Fractures
Fractures are treated differently, depending on the type of fracture as well as where the fracture has taken place in the body.
In general, medical professionals will work on putting the pieces of the broken bone together and in their proper positions. As the bones heal, they need to be immobile and stabilised.
A cast is usually used to stabilise the broken bones. The cast is usually made of plaster or fiberglass. The cast is integral in the healing process of the broken bones.
In the instance of more complex fractures, surgery may be performed.
Medications may also be prescribed by the doctor to manage pain, prevent infections, or control other possible complications. After the healing period, physical therapy is often recommended to be able to bring back normal motor skills.
Prevention for Fractures
Because fractures are often the result of accidents relating to major trauma or sudden injuries, prevention is not always possible. However, there are extra measures and cautions that you can do to keep your bones less prone to damage and breakage.
Keeping your bone strength involves partaking in a nutrition-rich diet, particularly foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Regular exercise is also instrumental in maintaining bone strength. These may be in the form of walking, hiking, running, dancing, and weight training.
Can you heal from a fracture?
Does osteoporosis increase my chances of having a fracture?
What is the hardest bone to heal?
How do fractures affect the body?
What is the most common bone to break?
The clavicle, or the collarbone, is the most common bone in the human body to suffer fractures. Its location in the body makes it vulnerable to fractures, especially in the instances of engaging in sports, and car accidents.
The collarbone is followed by the arm, hand, or wrist fracture.
Do fractures heal completely?
Complete healing from fractures may take months, even years. Some people may still experience occasional pains and discomfort even after the fracture and the tissues have healed.