What is Fractures?
A fracture is commonly referred to as a broken bone. Fractures are common; the average person has two during a lifetime. They occur when the physical force exerted on the bone is stronger than the bone itself. Your risk of fracture depends, in part, on your age. Broken bones are very common in childhood, though children’s fractures are generally less complicated than fractures in adults. Older people, whose bones are more brittle, are more likely to suffer fractures from falls that would not affect younger people.
There are many types of fractures, but the main categories are complete, incomplete, compound and simple. Complete and incomplete fractures refer to the way the bone breaks: In a complete fracture, the bone snaps into two or more parts; in an incomplete fracture, the bone cracks but does not break all the way through. In a compound fracture, also called an open fracture, the bone breaks through the skin; it may then recede back into the wound and not be visible through the skin. In a simple fracture, also called a closed fracture, the bone breaks but there is no open wound in the skin.
Simple fractures include:
- Greenstick fracture: an incomplete fracture in which the bone is bent. This type occurs most often in children.
- Transverse fracture: a fracture at a right angle to the bone’s axis.
- Oblique fracture: a fracture in which the break slopes.
- Comminuted fracture: a fracture in which the bone fragments into several pieces.
- An impacted fracture is one whose ends are driven into each other. This is commonly seen in arm fractures in children and is sometimes known as a buckle fracture. Other types of fracture are pathologic fracture, caused by a disease that weakens the bones, and stress fracture, a hairline crack.
- Other types of fracture are pathologic fracture, caused by a disease that weakens the bones, and stress fracture, a hairline crack.
The severity of a fracture depends upon its location and the damage done to the bone and tissue near it. Serious fractures can have dangerous complications if not treated promptly; possible complications include damage to blood vessels or nerves and infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or surrounding tissue. Recuperation time varies depending on the age and health of the patient and the type of fracture. A minor fracture in a child may heal within a few weeks; a serious fracture in an older person may take months to heal.