Many people aren’t aware that bone fractures are the same as broken bones. When they hear they have a fracture, they feel relieved, believing that they have “only a fracture, but not a broken bone”. Because of this mistaken belief, they don’t get the care and treatment that bone fractures need, prolonging the healing process and possibly causing more damage.
Bone fractures occur when a bone gets broken or cracked. There are different things that may cause bone fractures. Weakened bones from diseases such as osteoporosis or cancer may turn into bone fractures very easily. Some bone fractures happen because of stress such as you see with athletes, while others are caused by a sudden impact like a car accident. Anytime you have broken bones, you have bone fractures.
There are different symptoms that may indicate bone fractures. The most common symptoms of bone fractures are pain and swelling. Occasionally, the patient may have bruising if there is internal bleeding from the bone fracture. They patient may have difficulty putting pressure or any weight on the injured area. Although you may also experience this with a sprain, the pain with a bone fracture is much more severe. The patient may also have paralysis or numbness below or above the fracture.
There are many different kinds of bone fractures. The two most specific kinds are closed (simple) fractures or open (compound) fractures. Closed bone fractures are where the bone is broken, but the skin is still intact and not broken through. An open fracture is where the skin is broken, exposing the bone to air. An open fracture is more severed because the wound is very susceptible to infection. A fracture can also be either complete or greenstick. Complete fractures are when the break goes all the way through the bone whereas incomplete fractures have only a partial break. Children are most often the victims of greenstick fractures. As you’re probably aware, stress fractures occur over a period of time where the bone is overworked and worn down.
Treatment for bone fractures will vary depending on the type of fracture as well as the location of the fracture. Immobilization of the body part is usually the first treatment method. Minor bone fractures can usually be treated in the office of an orthopedic specialist or, possibly, a family physician. When the bone fractures are more severe, they must be treated in a hospital. The patient is usually fitted with a brace, cast or sling to aid in the healing. Stress fractures, however, will usually need rest and possibly anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Surgery is often the recommended treatment if the bone fracture is an open fracture, is severe or if there appears to be damage to the tissue surrounding the injury.