According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, an estimated six million people each year will break a bone in their body. There are 206 bones in the human body, and the research and statistics about fractures show that some areas of our bodies are somewhat fragile. No wonder our bones are prone to all kinds of injuries and fractures. The five most commonly broken bones are: the clavicle (Collarbone), arm, wrist (Colles’ Fracture), hip, and the ankle.
Bones are important, quite literally the foundation, or framework, that keeps us together. We should have more care and respect for our skeletal framework, because our bones produce blood cells, protect our organs, shelter our brain, help produce and maintain calcium in our bodies to keep our bones healthy and strong, and most importantly, allows our muscles and body to move.
When our bones break due to a sudden injury or condition, it is a shock to our bodies. However, the interesting thing is that when bones are fractured, they immediately begin to heal. The fractured bone deposits calcium at the site of the break, so when they heal, they become stronger than before.
How do bones break?
The type of force on the bone may determine the type of injury that occurs. When a bone becomes fractured, that means that it cannot withstand the pressure of those outside forces. Determining if a bone is broken is based on the location of the injury on the bone, how the bone is aligned, and whether any other complications exist. There may be swelling and bruising in the area, or tenderness when touched. The injured part of the body may also appear disfigured or deformed.
Within a few hours of your bone breaking, the body forms a blood clot surrounding the fractured bone. Immune system cells in the blood clot get rid of germs that may have entered. Cells called chondroblasts create a soft callus around the break, and eventually create new bone. During the final stage of healing, the extra bone that was created around the hard callus gets broken down, returning the bone to its original shape.
Broken bones are obviously painful, and there are several reasons why broken bones hurt. The nerve endings that contain fibers are irritated, broken bones bleed and the blood and swelling causes pain and inflammation, and muscles surrounding the area may spasm as a result of trying to hold the broken pieces of bones together.
What to Do if Your Bone Breaks?
If you think there may be a problem, or you may have broken a bone, seek immediate care. The longer you wait, further complications can arise. Here are steps you can do if your bone breaks, before seeing a specialist:
- Stop Bleeding: If your bone or injury starts bleeding, it is best to apply pressure and wrap it in a clean bandage, or piece of clothing.
- Immobilize the injury: If you suspect that your bone has been broken, do whatever you can to immobilize and keep that part of the body as still as possible. This can be done with a splint or sling.
- Get help: Get them to their doctor’s office for immediate help, as waiting can cause further complications.
If you have a closed fracture, where the bone has not broken through the skin, you may not need to visit the Emergency Room. If you are in the Kingsport or Johnson City areas, Watauga Orthopaedics offers a walk-in urgent care clinic for injuries that include broken bones. To learn more about how to handle broken bones and what type of treatment options are available, call Watauga Orthopaedics at (423) 282-9011 or request an appointment online.