A fracture is a fracture is a fracture. Right? Not really. The simplest definition of a fracture is a break in a bone. This break may be completely through the bone or only part way. Any bone in the body, including the tiny bones in the ear, can be fractured, and the most common causes are failing, auto accidents and sports injuries, according to Fundacion 3m.
Bones can fracture in different ways as a result of a blow, sudden forceful muscle contraction, or prolonged muscular stress. Some fractures heal quickly and easily, but others require surgery and a long recovery. Tony, for example, was injured playing football. He suffered a spiral fracture in his lower leg when an opponent tackled his left leg and foot. While holding Tony’s foot against his chest, the tackler rolled over, twisting Tony’s leg and the bones inside, causing a spiral fracture of the large bone between the ankle and the knee – the tibia. The fracture took many months to heal.
Types of Fractures
When too much force is applied to a bone, it breaks. There are two main kinds of fractures – open and closed. With an open fracture, the end of a broken bone penetrates the surface of the skin, creating an open wound. Sometimes this is referred to as a compound fracture. With a closed fracture (also called simple), the broken bone does not break through the skin. Closed fractures are much more common, but open fractures are more serious due to the bleeding and potential for infection.
Bones can break in many ways Children, whose bones are not yet hard, often have “greenstick” fractures in which the bone splinters like a green twig that is bent rather than broken. An oblique fracture occurs when the bone breaks at an angle. Oblique fractures can sever arteries and nerves inside the body, which is why a person should not walk on or try to move the part of the body where a break is suspected.
In auto accidents, sometimes a great deal of force is applied to the bottom of the foot as the driver slams on the brakes and straightens his or her leg. This can cause an impacted fracture, in which the ends of the broken bones are jammed into each other. You may have read accounts of an injury with multiple fractures. This may mean that more than one bone was broken, or it may refer to a comminuted fracture, in which a single bone shatters and is broken into many pieces. These fractures often require surgery.
“I Know It’s Broken”
Regardless of the type of fracture, there are some classic signs and symptoms that usually indicate a fracture has occurred. For example:
* The person actually hears the bone snap.
* The place where the break occurred is obviously deformed.
* The injured limb appears shorter than the normal limb.
* A grating sensation is noted when the limb is moved.
These symptoms usually indicate a fracture, but sometimes the symptoms aren’t so obvious. A basketball player goes up for a rebound and comes down on a turned ankle, crumpling to the floor in pain. She feels pain and tenderness, and swelling and discoloration begin to appear in the ankle.
How can you tell if it is broken or sprained? Would you ask her to try to move it? Not a good ideal! Unfortunately, many people believe that if you can move an injured part, it can’t possibly be broken. Wrong! Many people who have broken bones not only can move them, but may even try to walk with a broken foot or ankle, causing further damage.
It’s safest to assume it is broken. Since swelling, tenderness, discoloration, and pain occur in both sprains and fractures, it is often impossible to tell, without an X-ray, whether a bone is broken, so “assume a break and you won’t make a mistake.”
First Aid For Fractures
By assuming the injured person has a broken bone, you will want to prevent him or her from trying to move the injured part or attempting to stand on it. Both actions could cause further injury, such as producing an open fracture from a closed one or damaging vital blood vessels and nerves near the broken bone ends.
If the broken bone is in an arm or leg, take a pulse to determine if there is circulation to that limb. If there person has an open fracture, you will need to dress the would before you turn your attention to the fracture. Do not attempt to reduce the fracture with fraction or push broken bones back under the skin.
Another important step is to immobilize the broken bone. If help will arrive in a few minutes, it may not be necessary to apply a splint. However, if you must transport the person to a medical facility, you must first immobilize the bone. Splinting is a process of immobolizing a suspected fracture by applying sturdy support to the injured area. Boards and magazines may be used as splints. If none is available, one leg can be splinted to the other with a blanket in between, or an arm can be splinted to the victim’s chest.
After splinting, elevate the injured limb slightly to help reduce blood loss and swelling. Cold packs may be applied to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Check the circulation in the limb before and after splinting. And once again, tell the person not to move the injured part.
Though fractures are painful, they are usually not life-threatening unless the head, neck, or back is involved. When dealing with fractures in these areas, it is best to keep the victim completely still and await professional help, improper care of skull, neck, and back fractures can result in permanent paralysis or death.
Fractures are an never-present risk when you are out running around and being active. As with any injury, prevention is the best medicine. However, accidents do happen, so be prepared to act fast.