Putting Orthopaedic Pieces Together: A Joint Effort
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What are fractures?

Fractures, commonly known as broken bones, are a type of orthopedic injury where there is a disruption in the continuity of a bone’s structure. Fractures can occur due to various causes, such as trauma, overuse, or underlying medical conditions, and they can range in severity from minor cracks to complete breaks. Here’s a more detailed explanation of fractures:


Types of Fractures: Fractures are classified into several categories based on their characteristics:


  • Closed Fracture (Simple Fracture): In a closed fracture, the bone breaks without piercing the skin. The skin remains intact, and there is no visible wound at the site of the fracture.


  • Open Fracture (Compound Fracture): In an open fracture, the broken bone protrudes through the skin or there is an open wound at the site of the fracture. This type of fracture poses a higher risk of infection due to the exposure of the bone to the external environment.


  • Complete Fracture: A complete fracture occurs when the bone is completely broken into two or more separate pieces.


  • Incomplete Fracture: In an incomplete fracture, the bone is partially cracked or bent but not completely broken. Common examples include greenstick fractures in children, where the bone bends but doesn’t break completely.


  • Displaced Fracture: A displaced fracture is one in which the bone fragments are not aligned properly. This type of fracture often requires realignment (reduction) to restore normal bone alignment.


  • Non-displaced Fracture: In a non-displaced fracture, the bone fragments remain in their proper alignment, which may simplify the healing process.


  • Comminuted Fracture: A comminuted fracture involves the bone breaking into multiple fragments. This type of fracture can be more complex and may require surgery for stabilization.


Causes of Fractures: Fractures can result from a variety of causes, including:


  • Trauma: Falls, automobile accidents, sports injuries, and direct blows to the bone are common causes of traumatic fractures.


  • Overuse: Repetitive stress or excessive strain on a bone, such as in stress fractures, can lead to fractures over time.


  • Pathological Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) or bone tumors, can make bones more susceptible to fractures.


  • Age: Older individuals are more prone to fractures due to decreased bone density and muscle mass.


Symptoms of Fractures: Common symptoms of fractures include:

  • Pain and tenderness at the site of the fracture.


  • Swelling and bruising around the injured area.


  • Deformity or an abnormal appearance of the affected limb.


  • Limited range of motion or inability to move the affected area.


  • A grating sensation or sound (crepitus) when the bone fragments rub against each other.


Treatment of Fractures: Treatment for fractures depends on the type, location, and severity of the fracture. Common treatment options include:

  • Immobilization: The use of casts, splints, or braces to keep the broken bone in place during the healing process.


  • Reduction: The process of realigning displaced bones, which may be done manually (closed reduction) or surgically (open reduction).


  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the fracture using hardware like pins, screws, plates, or rods.


  • Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation exercises help restore strength, flexibility, and function to the affected area.


  • Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.


Fractures are common orthopedic injuries, and prompt and appropriate treatment is essential for optimal healing and the prevention of complications. The specific approach to managing a fracture depends on individual circumstances and should be determined by a healthcare provider.