Bones are inflexible, but they do bend slightly or “give” somewhat if an external force is applied. However, if the power is too much, the bones will break, just as a tree branch when it is bent too far.
The seriousness of a fracture is usually contingent on the force that triggered the break. If the bone’s breaking point has been surpassed only a little, then the bone may crack instead of breaking all the way through. When the force is too excessive, such as from a gunshot or car crash, the bone may shatter.
If the bone breaks in a way that fragments from the bone rupture through the skin, or a lesion pierces down to the broken bone, the break is called an “open” fracture. Once the skin is penetrated, infection in both the laceration and the bone can arise.
Types of Fractures
Common categories of fractures include:
Stable fracture. The broken ends of the bone align and are only slightly out of place.
Open, compound fracture. The skin may be ruptured by an impact that breaks the skin at the time of the fracture or by being pierced by the bone. This does not always mean the bone will be visible in the wound.
Transverse fracture. A horizontal fracture line is common in this type of fracture.
Oblique fracture. An angled pattern is common in this type of fracture.
Comminuted fracture. In this kind of fracture, the bone shatters into at least three pieces.
Causes of Fractures
The most common reasons for fractures are:
- Falls, motor vehicle accidents, and rough physical play in sports can all result in fractures.
- Certain conditions weaken bones and put the bones in jeopardy of breaking.
- Repetitive motion can fatigue muscles and create a situation for more force to be placed on the bone. The result can be a stress fracture. Stress fractures can happen to anyone but are more common in athletes.
Symptoms of Fractures
Many fractures can be quite painful and may stop you from having full mobility in the wounded area. Other common symptoms include:
- Tenderness and swelling around the injury
- Deformity — an appendage can look “out of place” or a portion of the bone may pierce through the skin