Speed Up Fracture Healing

Bone Fracture – Types, Surgery, Treatment, Causes, Diagnosis and Prevention

21 Jul

Overview

Bone fractures are breaks in the bones which can be caused by trauma such as accidents and pathological factors like osteoporosis. According to statistics, most people have already experienced having their bones fractured during their lifetime. The severity and extent of bone injuries increases with the age of the individual. For example, since the bones of children are still underdeveloped and weaker, they are more prone to breaking. However, certain accidents and falls that cannot cause harm to children can bring about fractures on older people because adults somehow have ‘stiff’ bone structure. Elderly people have the highest possibility of having bone fractures because their bones are already brittle.

Types

• Simple fracture. Affected bone breaks exactly into two parts.
• Stress fracture. This is due to application of repetitive stress on bones. Stress fractures cause the bones to have hairline cracks on their surface which are normally invisible on x-ray during the first six weeks after the pain was experienced.
• Impacted fracture. The fragmented part of bone has been embedded on another broken bone fracture.
• Comminuted fracture. The affected bone is fragmented into many different pieces.
• Compound fracture. This is also known as open fracture wherein the broken bone pierces and breaks the skin.
• Complete fracture. The bone fragmented into more than two pieces but not small fragments.
• Incomplete. The bone cracks but does not entirely separate.

Diagnosis

Bone fractures are normally diagnosed by having a physical examination followed by x-rays or MRIs on the affected area. During the physical examination, the doctor will ask the history of injury as well as how the injury happened to assess its extent. Afterwards, he will perform some range motion tests which can help identify whether there are nerves, arteries, or other bone parts that have been affected by the injury. X-rays are normally requested because the doctors use these scans to assess the mechanism and severity of the injury. There are some cases wherein the fracture cannot be seen on the x-ray (cases such as hairline fractures). In situations like these, the doctor will request for more powerful imaging tests such as the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or the computer tomography (CT). Open fractures also need to have supplementary laboratory tests in order to identify whether an infection has developed on the injured site.

Bone Fracture Causes

• Traumas: automobile accidents, falling from a high height, direct blows
• Child abuse
• Repetitive stress applied on the bone: normally happens on athletes who regularly train and usually causes injuries on body parts such as the leg, foot, hip, tibia, and ankle.
• Pathological factors: osteoporosis which weakens the bones. Caused by calcium deficiency.

Symptoms

• Limited movements due to extreme pain
• Bleeding, swelling, bruising of the affected area.
• Protruding bones on the skin.
• Having a tingling or numb sensation on injured area.
• Deformed shape of the affected area.

Bone Fracture Treatment

The type of treatment is administered depending on the location of the bone fracture. The medical history of the patient and the age can also influence the treatment to be used. Once a fracture is first suspected, the affected area should be immediately immobilized to prevent further damage on the broken area. Most fractures, specifically closed fractures are immobilized using tools like slings, casts, and braces. As for stress fractures, since they are only hairline cracks on the surface of the bone, the best treatment is for the patient to have a few weeks of rest. Anti-inflammatory medicines, application of ice packs, and stopping from doing the activity which has caused the stress fracture should also be considered.

Surgery is only needed when the bone fracture caused breaks on the skin or if the bone has been fragmented into small pieces and caused injury on the neighboring tissues. Severe cases may need the use of plates, rods, and screws which are implanted on the body. Bone grafting can also be an option. Here, a healthy fragment of bone is taken from another body part and is used to fill in the fractured site.

Prevention

The best prevention involves the use of protective gears when doing hazardous activities. Athletes should also do their training in a gradual process so to not force the bones. Children should be trained to eat healthy foods rich in nutrients and minerals that are good for the bones and to improve their bone health while still young.

When to Call a Doctor

A person should immediately consult a doctor after experiencing a direct trauma. Consulting a physician shouldn’t be dependent on whether there is pain being experienced or not. Athletes who also experience numbness or stiffness on the injured part should also consult their doctors to check if they have stress fractures.

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