Fractures

A fracture, also referred to as a bone fracture, is a medical condition where the bone is broken. A significant percentage of bone fractures occur because of high force impact or physical stress.

However, a fracture may also be the result of some medical conditions which weaken the bones, for example osteoporosis, osteomalacia (Vitamin D deficiency), some cancers or osteogenesis imperfecta, where the bone is weakened to the point of fracturing under normal strain.

Most fractures are caused by excessive external forces and are classified as traumatic fractures. Fractures can range in severity, requiring very little medical intervention, to severe life-threatening injuries that take months or years for full recovery. Improper treatment of fractures can even lead to debilitating changes to the body’s strength and mobility.

All bone fractures, regardless of cause, are sorted into two major classes: simple and compound fractures.

  • Simple fractures, also called closed fractures, are broken bones that remain within the body and do not penetrate the skin.
  • Open Compound fractures, also called open fractures, are broken bones that penetrate through the skin and expose the bone and deep tissues to the exterior environment.
    Antibiotics are often used to prevent possible infections that may be associated with compound fractures.

Within the realm of simple and compound fractures are many specific types of fractures. Common kinds include:

  • Comminuted fractures are severe fractures that involve the breaking of a bone into several smaller pieces.
  • Greenstick fractures are breaks in bones along only one side of the bone caused by a force perpendicular to the bone’s long axis. Greenstick fractures are seen only in children whose developing bones are more flexible than adult bones and therefore tend to bend and only partially break instead of breaking completely.
  • Avulsion fractures involve a small piece of bone being torn off from the main bone due to an extreme force applied to a ligament or tendon.

Different bone fractures may occur at many different angles depending on the direction in which a force is applied to a bone.

  • Transverse fractures form perpendicularly to the long axis of a bone and are the result of a force applied at a right angle to the bone.
  • Oblique fractures are slanted fractures that occur when a force is applied at any angle other than a right angle to the bone.
  • Spiral fractures are the result of an extreme twisting force being exerted on a bone.