Bone fractures: Causes, description, Treatment

General or Other | Orthopaedics | Bone fractures (Disease)

Bone fractures: Description

A bone fracture is a medical condition in which there is a break in the continuity of the bone. Any bone in the body can be fractured. The main functions of the skeleton include support, movement and protection of vulnerable internal organs.

The symptoms of a bone fracture depend on the particular bone and the severity of the injury, but may include: pain and tenderness; swelling; bruising; deformity in the affected area; inability to use the limb; crackling noise; in an open fracture, damage to skin, bleeding, and visible bone.

Causes and Risk factors

There are many types of bone fracture. There are two main types of fracture: closed or simple, in which the broken bone does not break through the overlying skin; and open or compound, in which the bone pierces the skin and is exposed.

By cause, there can be traumatic fracture – due to sustained trauma like fractures caused by a fall, road traffic accident, fight and pathological fracture – when the fracture is caused by an underlying disease such as Osteoporosis, which is the commonest cause of pathological fracture.

Complications can include: blood loss, injuries to organs such as the brain or chest organs and growth problems.

Bone fractures: Treatment and Diagnosis

Bone fractures are diagnosed with x-rays. CT and MRI scans may also be used. Depending on the site of the fracture and the severity of the injury, treatment may include: splints to discourage movement of the broken limb; braces to support the bone; plaster cast to provide support and immobilise the bone; surgically inserted metal rods or plates to hold the bone pieces together and pain relief.

Broken bones heal by themselves – the aim of medical treatment is to make sure the pieces of bone are lined up correctly. Very important is not to move the body part with a fracture and not straight the broken bone.

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