Bones fracture, or break, in a number of different ways. In general, bones are somewhat flexible, but a force may crack or break the bone. Extreme force from things like an automobile crash or a gunshot may shatter the bone.
Common types of fractures include: stable fracture, where the broken ends of the bone line up and are only slightly out of place; an open, compound fracture, where the skin may be pierced by the bone or by a blow that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture; a transverse fracture, which has a horizontal fracture line; an oblique fracture, which has an angled pattern; and a comminuted fracture, when the bone shatters into three or more pieces. Fractures usually cause fairly severe pain. Other symptoms of a broken bone include swelling and tenderness, bruising, and a deformed appearance.
Broken bones need medical attention to heal properly. Without proper treatment, a fracture can cause a number of additional medical problems. For diagnosis, a doctor will use physical examination and x-rays or other imaging.
Fracture treatment depends on the location and severity of the injury. Traction, a gentle, pulling action, may be used to align a broken bone. External fixation is a surgical procedure that attaches pins and screws to an external support bar. Internal fixation with open reduction uses rods, screws and plates to hold together pieces of the bone together.
A plaster or fiberglass cast is a common fracture treatment. A functional cast or brace may be used to allow some movement of unaffected nearby joints.Previous Page Last Review Date: January 5, 2018