Fractures are most commonly referred to as “open” or “compound,” which means the bone has broken through the skin, or “closed,” which means the fractured bone remains within the body without piercing the skin. They may also be referred to in terms of how or where they occur. For instance:
Transverse fractures occur across the width of the bone.
Comminuted fractures involve three or more fragments; these fractures often require the use of pins or screws to hold bone fragments in place and provide added support.
“Greenstick” fractures occur when bone is bent and “snapped;” they most commonly occur in children when bone tissue is relatively soft.
Spiral or torsion fractures occur when the bone breaks as a result of being twisted by an intense force.
X-ray is the most common way to diagnose a fracture, although sometimes other types of diagnostic imaging may be used, especially when extensive soft tissue injury is suspected. The doctor will also look for telltale signs like swelling, pain and discoloration.
The most common causes of trauma fractures include:
auto accidents, including accidents where pedestrians are struck by vehicles
slip and fall accidents, which occur most commonly among the elderly, young children and athletes
overuse injuries such as continual contact with a hard surface; runners are prone to these types of fractures
osteoporotic fractures that occur in people with low bone density
The type of treatment depends on the type, location and severity of the fracture and may include casting, splinting, bracing or surgery to place pins or screws into the bone to help stabilize it. Many fractures require physical therapy to build strength and regain mobility.
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