Health Information

Fractures

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. When a fracture occurs, it is classified as either open or closed:
  • open fracture (Also called compound fracture.) - the bone exits and is visible through the skin, or a deep wound that exposes the bone through the skin.
  • closed fracture (Also called simple fracture.) - the bone is broken, but the skin is intact.

Fractures have a variety of names. Below is a listing of the common types that may occur:
  • greenstick - incomplete fracture. A portion of the bone is broken, causing the other side to bend.
  • transverse - the break is in a straight line across the bone.
  • spiral - the break spirals around the bone; common in a twisting injury.
  • oblique - diagonal break across the bone.
  • compression - the bone is crushed, causing the broken bone to be wider or flatter in appearance.
  • comminuted - the break is in three or more pieces and fragments are present at the fracture site.
  • segmental - the same bone is fractured in two places, so there is a "floating" segment of bone.

What causes a fracture?

Fractures occur when there is more force applied to the bone than the bone can absorb. Bones are weakest when they are twisted. Breaks in bones can occur from falls, trauma, or as a result of a direct blow or kick to the body.

Treatment for a fracture:

Specific treatment for a fracture will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference