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Capital City Orthopaedics

Fractures

A fracture is a broken bone. There can be complete or partial fractures in a lot of different ways: lengthwise, cross-wise, in the middle, etc. Fractures happen in many ways but the are most commonly come from trauma, overuse, and Osteoporosis. Trauma can come from falls, accidents, and athletics. Overuse can cause stress fractures that are more in common in athletes and those with active life styles. Osteoporosis thins out bones and causes them to be frail and easily broken.

Once a fracture actually occurs the body forms a protective blood cot and fibrous or callus tissue at the injured area. Bone cells begin to grow on both sides of the fracture line towards each other. When the growths reach each other and effectively close the fracture, the the callus/fibrous tissue is absorbed.

Diagnosis

Usually broken bones make themselves readily apparent. The area around a fracture can be painfully tender and swollen. You might hear a snapping or cracking sound when the fracture occurs. The limb where the fracture is may look off or deformed. Part of the bone may even pierce and protrude through the skin. X-rays can be ordered to confirm and help in the diagnosis.

Fracture Types

Fractures come in several forms. The simple fracture is a broken bone with no skin laceration. The skin may be pierced by bone or the force of the break in a compound fracture. The bone is not necessarily visible in the wound. If the fracture is at right angles to the long axis of the bone, then it is a transverse fracture. A Greenstick fracture is a break on one side of the bone that causes a bend on the other side of the bone. Comminuted fractures are breaks that result in three or more bone fragments.

Treatment

Devices will be used to hold the fracture in the correct position while the bone is healing. Splints and pins are examples of what the physician could use for fixation. Depending on the fracture and location external or internal devices may be used. Splints, casts, fiberglass casts, cast braces, and others are external. Internally metal plates, pins, or screws can used to hold the fracture. Treatment can vary due to location of fracture, severity, healing potential, other injuries, age of patient, activity level of patient, and others.

Recovery

Depending on the severity of a fracture and how closely you follow your doctor's orders, fractures can take weeks to months to heal. Pain is usually absent before the fracture is healed enough to handle normal activity so great care must be taken. Removal of fixation devices might still need to be followed by limited activity. Normally muscles will have to be restrengthened through rehabilitation after non use has made them week. Exercise and gradually increase your activity as directed by your doctor.

Fractures can be the result of a sports injury.

Resources on Fractures