Fractures: Causes, Types, and Prevention

Fractures: Causes, Types, and Prevention

Dec 01, 2019

Did you know the average person suffers bone fracture at least twice in their lifetime? Although most are traumatic, some bone fractures are pathological and caused by certain underlying conditions.

Are you at risk? The risk of bone fractures depends, to some extent on your age. Broken bones are common in children and seniors because as we age our bones become brittle and affect bone strength and stability.

What are Bone Fractures?

Bones connect the joints and muscles, enable us to move, and also protect our organs from damage. Our bones are strong and able to withstand pressure, but when excess force is exerted on them, it can cause a crack, break or fracture.

Since the bone detaches from muscle support, you should treat it as a medical emergency and visit an ER near you.

What Type of Fracture Do You Have?

Bone fractures occur differently depending on the force exerted and the location.

  • Closed or Open

You have a closed or simple fracture if the bone doesn’t tear the skin. Open fractures, on the other hand, breaks the skin and exposes it to infections.

  • Complete or incomplete

An incomplete bone fracture is just that, incomplete meaning the bone cracks, but doesn’t break all through. Incomplete fractures are more common children than adults because they have soft bones likely to bend.

Complete fractures occur when the bone is crushed into two or more pieces and affects people of all ages.

What Causes Fractures?

Apart from falls and accidents, fractures could be caused by bone diseases like osteoporosis. Healthy bones are strong, tough and resilient, and can withstand powerful impacts. However, our bone density decreases with age making the bone weak and brittle. This further increases the risk of falling and bone fractures.

How Can I Tell I Have a Broken Bone?

Other than the excruciating pain and the vivid view of a dislodged bone, you might experience other symptoms like;

  • Swelling and bruising of the bone
  • Loss of function in the affected area
  • Deformity of the leg or arms
  • Inability to use the affected arms and legs
  • Bone protruding in the skin in the case of an open structure

As aforementioned, bone fractures are a medical emergency and should be treated with urgency. Come to our 24-hour freestanding emergency room in Temple. We also have a 24/7 pediatric emergency room to cater to all conditions.

What to Expect After a Bone Fracture?

When you visit our Express ER in Temple center, the doctor will do a diagnosis and assessment using x-rays and other digital scans to determine the location of the fracture and the extent of the tissue damage, if any.

Often, bone fractures heal automatically, however, the doctor will give you certain treatments to hasten the process.

1. Immobilization is the treatment of choice to align the bones. Some types of immobilization used include;

  • Plaster casts that hold the bone until the healing process is completed
  • Intra-medullary nails
  • External fixators they are steel pins inserted directly into the bones
  • Metal plates and screws

Immobilization takes 2-8 weeks, but the duration depends on the area affected and whether you have complications.

2. Physical therapy

The doctor may prescribe physical therapy after the bone has healed to restore strength and mobility of the affected bone.

Surgery is done as a last resort if you have skin and tissue damage around the affected area.

What If the Bone Doesn’t Heal?

Delayed unions are bones that take longer to heal while non-unions are fractures that don’t heal at all; in both cases, you will need advanced treatments such as;

  • Ultrasound therapy involves using low-intensity ultrasound applied to the fractured bone.
  • A bone graft involves using a synthetic bone to stimulate bone growth

Are There Any Complications?

Yes, certain complications may arise;

  • The bone heals in the wrong place
  • Bone marrow infection
  • Disrupted bone growth usually caused by recurrent childhood bone fractures
  • Bone death

Take Care

Bone fractures at times can be unavoidable, but you can reduce the risk using these tips;

  • Eat calcium and vitamin D rich foods and get enough sunlight
  • Engage in physical activity especially strength-training

When a bone fracture occurs, don’t wait, call us immediately to prevent any complications that may arise.

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