Complete fractures are bone injuries wherein the breaks appear on the entire width of the bone surface. In complete fractures, the bones are fragmented into two or more pieces. This type of injury often leads to a severe swelling which causes the segments of the bone to be driven away from each other. Thus, instant immobilization should be done or the jagged ends of the fragmented bone can pierce the skin, causing an open type of fracture. Depending on the number of bone pieces the complete fracture has caused, the treatment can either be an internal or external fixation.
Types of Complete Fractures
• Open fracture. These fractures are caused when the sharp ends of the fragmented bones pierce the skin and create wounds.
• Simple fracture. This is a type of complete fracture when the bone is split into two pieces only.
• Multi-fragmentary fracture. The bone is fragmented into many pieces.
The diagnosis starts with a brief interview regarding the medical history of the patient and the mechanism of the injury. There will also be physical examination to rule out nerve injury such as range-motion activities. These will help the doctor identify other body areas which could have been affected by the injury. X-rays are commonly requested by doctors but there are instances that even the X-rays cannot clearly show fracture images so the use of more powerful bone imaging equipment like CT and MRI will be needed. Complete and open fractures may also involve other supplementary examinations like blood tests to see whether an infection has already developed on the wound. Rehabilitation or rehab is required.
• Colliding of high-energy trauma on the bones (accidents)
• Overexertion of stress on the bone. With too much stress applied on the bones, this can cause stress or hairlines fractures. Hairline fractures when they are not immediately treated can develop into complete bone fractures.
Complete Fracture Symptoms
• Bruising/Wounds (for open fractures)
• Numbness on the affected area
• Tenderness and passing pains on the injured side
• Deformed shape of the injured body part
• Skin discolorations (common in severely displaced closed fractures wherein some skin tissues are pierced by the jagged bone ends. The discoloration is caused by the bleeding of the tissues)
Complete Fracture Treatment
Complete fractures are classified as one of the most dangerous types of fractures. Though they can be treated with the use of non-operative procedures, some professionals recommend the use of internal fixation or surgical methods in dealing with this type of injury. Though using surgery poses problems like infection, it is considered a more direct form of treatment. The possibility of a nonunion bones is also lesser in surgery type treatment because the tools which will hold the fragmented bones together will be implanted inside the body. In summary, when it comes to dealing with details, using internal fixation methods are really advantageous compared to external fixation.
Moreover, cases of complete fractures wherein the bone is broken into more than three pieces are normally treated with the use of external fixation. External fixation involves the use of casts and braces to help immobilize the bones and bring them to their proper alignment again. Using slings is not much of a good idea when it comes to immobilization because this does not give much help when it comes to keeping the injured area from unnecessary movements.
Complete fracture healing time, recovery time: It takes more than 12 weeks.
Prevention of complete bone injury
Using instruments which can help lessen the force applied on the bones can help a lot in preventing complete fractures from happening. Examples are knee and elbow padding, protective abdominal suites, and airbags (for vehicle accidents). Though these instruments do not entirely remove the possibility of having a fracture, it can at least stop the injury from being a complete one.
When to Call a Doctor
Patients who experience pain immediately after having a high-trauma accident should immediately ask the help of professionals. In cases when pain is not felt after having an accident, numbness on specific body areas is also an indication that the injury needs immediate medical attention.