Other Conditions & Exposures

Expert reports about Other Conditions & Exposures



What is a bone fracture?

A bone fracture is literally a crack in any bone in your body, but fractures range in severity, healing time, and in terms of the complications that can develop, depending on the shape and nature of the crack and where it’s located. A greenstick fracture, which occurs mostly in young bones (as in children), is a simple crack that does not go all the way through the bone, but the unbroken bone is bent. There also are linear fractures, consisting of a crack that runs along part of the bone, the long way, so it also does not go from one side to the other. There can be a transverse fracture, which is a crack going directly across the width of the bone, and an oblique fracture, which also runs across the bone width but at an angle. These types of fractures can occur without any shifting in the position between the parts of the bone on the two sides of the crack, in which case it is called a non-displaced fracture. A non-displaced fracture occurring outside of the joints (along the main length of the bone, for instance) is typically the simplest type of fracture to treat and heals the easiest. Fractures with more complex shapes, such as a spiral shape, fractures in which the separated parts of the bone are displaced (shifted with respect to one another), fractures in which the bones are splintered into several pieces (called comminuted fractures), and fractures inside a joint region (the area across the ends of two bones where various tendons and ligaments are attached, and often there is an enclosed cavity containing fluid) take longer and typically require more effort to heal. A fracture also is classified based on whether or not it is a compound (also called “open”) fracture, which means that the broken bone pushes out through the skin, and whether or not it is reducible, meaning that any displaced parts of the bones can be put back into place and will stay in place, without surgery and the use of “hardware”, such as screws and plates.


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