Our bones – all 206 in the human body – are important to our structure and function. They protect vital organs in our bodies and produce the red blood cells we need.
A fracture occurs when there is a break in a bone. These breaks are categorized by the size and severity of the split or fracture, and whether there is damage inflicted on surrounding tissue. Fractures can range from mild to severe. They commonly occur in the hand and wrist or leg and foot. Injuries and accidents are the most typical causes. Fractures are common, with most people estimated to experience two fractures during their lifetimes.
The following are commonly used to describe the wide variety of fractures that can occur.
Open vs. Closed
An open, compound fracture indicates a bone has pierced through the skin, creating an open wound, because of the bone break. Closed fractures indicate that bone has not pierced the skin.
Displaced vs. Nondisplaced
Whether a fracture is “displaced” or “nondisplaced” refers to whether the bone breaks all the way through. Displaced fractures indicate the bone has moved out of place. Nondisplaced (or stable) fractures occur when the bone fractures or cracks either partly or all the way through, but the bone maintains its alignment in the body.
Other Types of Fractures
There are many classifications of fractures, depending on the type of break or how it occurred. These include:
· Avulsion Fracture: When a small piece of the bone breaks off the main bone.
· Buckled Fracture: When impact causes the bones to be forced into each other. Sometimes referred to as an impacted fracture.
· Comminuted Fracture: When a bone breaks into many pieces. This typically occurs as the result of trauma such as an automobile accident.
· Greenstick Fracture: An incomplete fracture that occurs when the bone bends but does not break. This fracture gets its name from green wood, which only breaks on the outside when bent. These types of fractures are more common in children (especially those under 10 years old) than adults.
· Hairline Fracture: Also known as a stress fracture. These fractures are just a small crack in the bone. These types of fractures are common in athletes and occur due to repetitive stress or force on an area, such as the foot.
· Oblique Fracture: A curved or sloped fracture.
· Pathologic Fracture: A break in bone that occurs as the result of disease rather than injury.
· Spiral Fracture: When a twisting force causes the break.
· Transverse Fracture: A fracture of long bones in the body, indicating the bone breaks at a right angle to the bone’s axis.
If you have or think you may have fractured a bone, the orthopedic surgeons at Watauga Orthopaedics can help heal the fracture with casting, or via surgery if the fracture is deemed too severe to heal on its own. Call Watauga Orthopaedics at (423) 282-9011 to request an appointment, or schedule an appointment online.