What is a fracture?
A fracture is a broken bone. It can range from a thin crack to a complete break. A bone can fracture crosswise, lengthwise, in several places, or into many pieces. 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.
Orthopedic fractures are a common daily acute health issue. Our orthopedic surgeons will work with you to determine the diagnosis and best plan for treatment and rehabilitation. Your fracture care will be based on the severity of your injury and your lifestyle.
Fractured bones must be set in their proper place and held there in order to heal properly. Setting a bone is called “reduction.” Repositioning the bone without surgery is called “closed reduction.” Serious fractures may require open reduction — repositioning using surgery. In some cases, devices such as pins, plates, screws, rods, or glue are used to hold the fracture in place.
Types of Fractures
Common types of fractures include:
- Stable fracture. The broken ends of the bone line up and are barely out of place.
- Open, compound fracture. The skin may be pierced by the bone or by a blow that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture. The bone may or may not be visible in the wound.
- Transverse fracture. This type of fracture has a horizontal fracture line.
- Oblique fracture. This type of fracture has an angled pattern.
- Comminuted fracture. In this type of fracture, the bone shatters into three or more pieces.
After setting, most fractures are immobilized with a cast, splint, or, occasionally, traction to reduce pain and help healing. Rehabilitation begins as soon as possible, even if the bone is in a cast. This promotes blood flow, healing, maintenance of muscle tone, and helps prevent blood clots and stiffness.