Bone Fractures: Types, Common Causes & How to Prevent
A bone fracture occurs when one or more bones of the body break or crack. This can occur due to trauma, such as a fall, a car accident, or a medical condition that weakens bones, such as osteoporosis.
In case of a bone fracture, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to repair the damage. However, some individuals may only require a splint, cast, brace, or sling to facilitate the healing process. The duration of recovery time largely depends on the location, severity, and cause of the fracture. Full recovery time can vary depending on which bone is fractured and the extent of the damage.
This article will discuss the types of bone fractures, their common causes, and how to prevent them.
Types of bone fracture
A transverse fracture is a type of bone fracture that occurs when a bone breaks completely across its horizontal axis, resulting in two pieces. A transverse fracture can be caused by direct trauma, repetitive stress, or underlying medical conditions that weaken the bone.
When a bone is twisted with a significant force, the bone breaks spirally, known as a spiral fracture. This fracture type is often seen in the body's long bones, such as the femur, tibia, or fibula. Spiral fractures can be caused by various injuries, including sports injuries, falls, and car accidents.
A greenstick fracture is a bone fracture most commonly seen in children whose bones are more flexible and less brittle than adults. This fracture type occurs when a bone is bent but only partially broken, like a green twig. In other words, one side of the bone is broken while the other side is bent. Greenstick fractures are often caused by falls or direct blows to the bone and are most commonly found in the forearm, particularly the radius bone.
When a bone is subjected to repeated stress over time, rather than a single traumatic event, a stress fracture occurs. This fracture is most commonly seen in athletes or individuals who engage in repetitive activities that place excessive stress on their bones, such as running or jumping. Stress fractures are commonly found in the feet, legs, and lower back.
Compression fractures are caused by trauma or diseases like osteoporosis compressing a bone, typically the spine. This fracture is most commonly seen in older adults, especially women and individuals with weakened bones.
When bone fractures diagonally, at an angle other than 90 degrees, it is known as an oblique fracture. Often caused by direct blows or twisting forces, this fracture occurs on long bones, such as the femur, tibia, and fibula. Oblique fractures may result in the displacement of bone fragments, which can make the healing process more complex.
An impacted fracture is a type of bone fracture that occurs when the broken ends of the bone are driven into each other, resulting in compression and shortening of the bone. This type of fracture is often seen in the body's long bones, such as the femur or the humerus. Impacted fractures are typically caused by high-force trauma, such as a car accident or a fall from a great height.
During a segmental fracture, multiple bones fragment and are broken in two or more places. Segmental fractures are more complex and severe than simple fractures, as they involve numerous bone fragments and can cause significant damage to surrounding tissues and organs.
Comminuted fractures are severe injuries in which the bone has been broken or splintered into more than two pieces. Due to the significant force and energy required to cause them, such fractures are typically caused by high-impact trauma, such as vehicular accidents. Splints and casts are ineffective for treating these types of fractures, and repairing them necessitates surgical intervention to reconstruct the bone and restore it to its normal structure.
An avulsion fracture is caused when a small piece of bone is pulled away from the main bone by a tendon or ligament. This type of fracture is often seen in the ankle, knee, or hip and is typically caused by sudden and forceful movements or a direct blow to the affected area. Avulsion fractures can also occur in children and adolescents whose bones are still growing due to the stronger pull of their tendons and ligaments on their bones.
Also, read: Joint Replacement Surgery: Types, Preparation, Procedure & Complications
Symptoms of bone fractures
Symptoms of bone fractures vary depending on the type and location of the fracture. However, some common symptoms of bone fractures include,
Pain ranges from mild to severe.
The affected area may become swollen due to the accumulation of fluid and blood.
The skin over the affected area may appear bruised or discoloured due to internal bleeding.
The affected bone may appear deformed or out of place.
Fractures can make it difficult or impossible to move the affected body part.
Fractures near nerves can cause numbness or tingling in the affected area.
Sometimes the bone will break through the skin, resulting in an open wound.
Common causes for bone fractures
Trauma: The most common cause of bone fractures is trauma or injury, such as a fall, car accident, or sports injury.
Overuse: Repetitive stress or overuse of a bone can cause stress fractures, which are small cracks in the bone.
Osteoporosis: A condition in which bones become brittle and weak, making them more vulnerable to fractures.