What are Broken Bones?
Broken bones can occur for a number of different reasons and vary in severity (though broken bones and fractures should always be treated immediately by a doctor). Fractures—small breaks or cracks—are common and can result from any form of firm, direct pressure applied to a bone. Bones break differently depending upon the level of pressure—they may break, crack or shatter in the process.
Any bone in the body can break at any time, though breaks are most commonly seen in the collarbone, arms, wrists and ankles. The type of break or fracture that occurs is primarily dependant on the injury itself, with some being more mild than others.
Common types of breaks include:
- Stable Fracture — Also referred to as “simple fractures,” stable fractures are the most common form of break, in which the bone does not typically move out of place. The bone simply breaks into two distinct pieces, yet distinguishing the two from one another from an X-ray can be a challenge.
- Stress Fracture — Stress fractures are caused by repetitive motion, which can result in a small crack forming in the bone.
- Hairline Fracture — Hairline fractures can also be called “partial fractures” and are unique in that they don’t result in complete breaks or bone separation.
- Greenstick Fracture — Most common in children, greenstick fractures occur when the bone is bent and breaks on only one side.
- Closed Fracture — With closed fractures, bones may break while the skin surrounding them remains intact.
- Open, Compound Fracture — Compound fractures occur when the skin breaks along with the associated bone. In some cases, the a piece of bone may even protrude from the skin.
What are the Signs of Fractures & Broken Bones?
Fractures and breaks are often obvious in how they manifest—particularly open, compound fractures. Certain fractures (such as hairline fractures) may be a bit less clear in their causation or severity, however. Signs and symptoms of fractures and broken bones include the following:
- Inability to put pressure on the area
- Restricted joint movement
- Dizziness/fainting (upon incurring of injury)
Fractures and broken bones require medical attention no matter how mild or severe symptoms happen to be. The first step in diagnosing a break is to conduct a physical examination and order X-rays, which can be used to determine the nature and extent of the injury. In many cases, a fiberglass splint may be used to immobilize a break to reduce swelling. Most fractures are then treated with casts and braces to ensure proper healing, which may need to be worn for several weeks.
Pain relievers are commonly used to help reduce the discomfort associated with broken and fractured bones. For mild breaks, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin can help both relieve pain and reduce inflammation/swelling.
Broken bones and fractures are common in childhood, especially among those who play sports. Children are more likely to experience incomplete fractures due to having softer bones than adults. While fractures in children and adults are treated similarly, pain medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen should be used with caution—be sure to discuss with your provider to learn more.
A visit to the doctor is essential as soon as possible after an obvious break or fracture has occurred. At ConvenientMD, we regularly treat patients with broken bones and fractures of all kinds. All of our locations are equipped with state of the art X-ray equipment that can be used to help diagnose exactly which kind of break you’ve suffered—the first step in creating a treatment plan.
Ready to feel better? We’re open seven days a week, so just stop into one of our clinics in Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts without ever needing an appointment.