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Fractures

Fractured means broken. Whether you have a complete or a partial fracture, you have a broken bone.

A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways (cross-wise, lengthwise, in the middle).

Fractures can happen in a variety of ways, but there are three common causes:

  • Trauma accounts for most fractures. For example, a fall, a motor vehicle accident or a tackle during a football game can all result in a fracture.
  • Osteoporosis also can contribute to fractures. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that results in the “thinning” of the bone. The bones become fragile and easily broken.
  • Overuse sometimes results in stress fractures. These are common among athletes.

Types of Fractures

  • Closed or simple fracture. The bone is broken, but the skin is not lacerated.
  • Open or compound fracture. The skin may be pierced by the bone or by a blow that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture. The bone may or may not be visible in the wound.
  • Transverse fracture. The fracture is at right angles to the long axis of the bone.
  • Greenstick fracture. Fracture on one side of the bone, causing a bend on the other side of the bone.

Comminuted fracture. A fracture that results in three or more bone fragments.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Fractures take several weeks to several months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well you follow your doctor’s advice. Pain usually stops long before the fracture is solid enough to handle the stresses of normal activity.

Even after your cast or brace is removed, you may need to continue limiting your activity until the bone is solid enough to use in normal activity.

Usually, by the time the bone is strong enough, the muscles will be weak because they have not been used. Your ligaments may feel “stiff” from not using them.

You will need a period of rehabilitation that involves exercises and gradually increasing activity before those tissues will perform their functions normally and the healing process is complete.

For more information on fractures, visit: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00139