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What is a fracture?

Fracture definition

A fracture is a medical condition where the continuity of a bone is broken or you can say a fracture is a broken bone. A fracture can be a thin crack to a complete break of bone.

The main cause of a fracture is stress or force applied to a bone.

Types of fracture

Classification of fracture:

  1. Soft tissue involvement
  2. Displacement
  3. Fracture pattern
  4. Fragments

Soft tissue involvement fracture includes:

  • Closed fracture: It is also called as simple fracture. A close fracture is defined as the fracture in which only bone breaks but do not tear the skin.
  • Compound (Open) fracture: In a compound fracture the bone breaks with tearing the skin also. These fractures include a high risk of sepsis (infection).

Displacement fracture include:

  • Non-displaced fracture: In this type of fracture bone breaks either part or all the way through, but do not include the movement and maintains proper alignment.
  • Displaced fracture: In displaced fracture the boned breaks two or more parts and moves.
  • Fracture dislocation: In this fracture one of the bones from a joint has fracture, it occurs when a joint is dislocated.

Fracture patterns include:

  • Linear fracture: The linear fracture is break in a cranial bone resembles to a thin line without distortion of bone.
  • Longitudinal fracture: It occurs when a bone break along the length.
  • Transverse fracture: When a broken piece of bone makes a right angle to the bone’s axis.
  • Oblique fracture: When a bone break in a curved pattern.
  • Spiral fracture: The fracture caused by the twisting force at least to one bone.
  • Stress fracture: When a bone breaks due to repeated stress and strain, this fracture is more common among athletes.
  • Intraarticular fracture: When the broke extends to the surface of the joint.
  • Impacted fracture: An impacted fracture is occurred when the bone is fractured, one fragment of bone goes into another.
  • Avulsion fracture: when a bone is broken by a muscle and ligament pull.


Incomplete fracture: In this type of fracture a bone is cracked but do not completely break. The incomplete fracture includes:

  • Hairline fracture: As the name suggest a hairline fracture is a thin crack of the bone or you can call it a partial fracture. Sometimes a hairline fracture is hard to detect in routine x-rays.
  • Green stick fracture: A fracture cause by the bending of the soft bones. This fracture is more common in children because their bones are more softer and elastic as compare to bones of the adults.
  • Buckle (torus) fracture: When a bone is not crack but deforms. More common in children. These are stable fracture.


Complete fracture

  • Single fracture: When a bone is broken into two pieces.
  • Compression fracture: When a bone collapsed under pressure.
  • Comminuted fracture: When a bone is broken into three or more parts.
  • Segmental fracture: When a bone is broken into two parts in a way that leaves at least one segment unattached and floating.

Pathological fracture:

When a bone break due to an underlying disease not by injury. Some medical conditions weaken your bones, which tends to a bone break by everyday things like coughing, bending etc.

Risk factors of fracture:

You can experience a fracture at any age. But the people more likely to have a fracture includes:

Previous fracture: previous fractures of vertebrae (spine) have a double risk of a fracture. These spine fractures occur slowly generally without pain.

Old age: With the increase in age our skeletal system exhibits physiologic changes. This may result in increase in some medical conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.  

Have osteoporosis: If you have osteoporosis then the rate of having a fracture increase.

Drink alcohol: Drinking alcohol in excess amount can have a bad impact on the bones and mass. 

Smoking: Smoking has an impact on the hormonal levels that is why smoking is a risk factor for fracture.  

Taking Steroids: Steroids are prescribed to treat chronic inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The need of increase the dose of steroids can frequently cause bone loss and fracture. The side effects of steroid dose are directly related to the increase the loss of calcium through the urine, absorption of the calcium through the gastrointestinal tract.     

Rheumatoid arthritis: This condition results in the severe joint and bone loss.

Diabetes: Those who have diabetes have low bone density so the risk of fracture also increases.  

Causes of a fracture:

  • Bad fall, or may fall from a height
  • Trauma
  • Underlying disease
  • Stress or strain on the muscle or joint

Symptoms of a fracture:

The symptoms are based on which bone is affected, the age of the patient, and how severe the injury is:

  • Extreme pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Discoloration of the skin around the affected area
  • Patient is not able to move the affected area
  • Bleeding, if it is an open fracture
  • Dizziness and nausea

Diagnose of a fracture:

If you develop a fracture you need to go for immediate medical attention. Your doctor sends you to radiology department fir taking x-rays and other diagnosis tests.

The fractures are diagnosed in x-rays. X-rays are the most common method to diagnose a fracture, but in some cases your doctor may get you a CT or MRI scan depending in the injury. X-rays produce the image of your bones and revels a fracture or other damages. You can find the type and location of the fracture with the help of x-rays.

Treatment of a fracture:

The fracture needs an immediate medical attention.

A bone can heal itself; your doctor will put the broken parts into their proper position and make them stable as they heal. It is necessary to keep broken pieces of bone immobile until they are fixed. During healing a new bone form around the edge of the broken parts. If the broken pieces are properly aligned and stabilized, the new bone will connect to the pieces of broken bone.

Your doctor may use a cast for stabilizing your broken bone. The cast is more likely to made up from the plaster or fiberglass. It is important because it prevents the movement of the injured area while they are healing.

For more complex or compound fractures you may need a surgery. These fractures are fixed by using screws, metal plates or both. The doctors first reposition the pieces of broken bone into normal form in and open reduction and internal fixation. or in some cases the fracture is treated by inserting the rods.

In external fixation, the doctor will put screws or pins into the bone upper and lower the fracture site.

Your doctor may also prescribe some medications like pain killer, infection control and some physical therapies.

Prevention from a fracture:

Not all the fractures can be prevented. But you can prevent them from keeping your bones strong so they will have a less damage. It is important to take a nutritious diet to maintain your bone strength, which includes food rich in calcium and vitamin D. Regular exercise is also important these include walking, dancing, running, hiking, weight bearing and weight training.