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The Breakdown on…
Knowledge Center

The Breakdown on Fractures

February 22, 2017

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a broken bone. A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways and the severity of the fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break. The bone may crack rather than break all the way through or the bone may shatter.  

The most common causes of fractures are:

  • Trauma, a fall, a motor vehicle accident or a sports injury
  • Osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones
  • Overuse, repetitive motion, resulting in stress fractures

 

Common types of fractures include:

  • Stable fracture, the broken ends of the bone line up
  • Open, compound fracture, the bone pierces the skin, causing a risk of infection in both the wound and the bone
  • Transverse fracture, a horizontal fracture line
  • Oblique fracture, an angled pattern
  • Comminuted fracture, the bone shatters into three or more pieces

 

Many fractures are painful and may prevent movement in the injured area. Common symptoms may include swelling, tenderness, bruising, and deformity. A fracture needs immediate care. Direct Orthopedic Care is open every day with no appointment and no waiting to see an orthopedic expert. After a careful examination to assess the extent of the injury, an X-ray will verify the diagnosis by providing clear images of the bones. The broken pieces must be put back into position and prevented from moving out of place until healed. Doctors use a variety of treatments to treat fractures:

  • Cast immobilization
  • Functional cast or brace, allowing limited movement
  • Traction to align bones
  • Create a stabilizing frame outside the skin
  • Surgically reposition and hold bones together with special screws and/or metal plates

 

Fractures take several weeks to several months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well the patient follows the orthopedic surgeon’s advice. Even after the cast or brace is removed, the patient may need to limit movement until the bone is solid enough for normal activity. Specific exercises will help restore normal muscle strength, joint motion, and flexibility. The orthopedic surgeons and physician assistants at DOC will advise patient guests of the best options for the best outcome.

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