A bone fracture is a medical condition in which a bone is cracked or broken. It is a break in the continuity of the bone. While many fractures are the result of high force impact or stress, bone fracture can also occur because of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis.
The word “Fracture” implies to broken bone. A bone may get fractured completely or partially and it is caused commonly from trauma due to fall, motor vehicle accident or sports. Thinning of the bone due to osteoporosis in the elderly can cause the bone to break easily. Overuse injuries are common cause of stress fractures in athletes.
Types of fractures include:
- Simple fractures in which the fractured pieces of bone are well aligned and stable.
- Unstable fractures are those in which fragments of the broken bone are misaligned and displaced.
- Open (compound) fractures are severe fractures in which the broken bones cut through the skin. This type of fracture is more prone to infection and requires immediate medical attention.
- Greenstick fractures: This is a unique fracture in children that involves bending of one side of the bone without any break in the bone.
Our body reacts to a fracture by protecting the injured area with a blood clot and callus or fibrous tissue. Bone cells begin forming on the either side of the fracture line. These cells grow towards each other and thus close the fracture.
The objective of early fracture management is to control bleeding, prevent ischemic injury (bone death) and to remove sources of infection such as foreign bodies and dead tissues. The next step in fracture management is the reduction of the fracture and its maintenance. It is important to ensure that the involved part of the body returns to its function after fracture heals. To achieve this, maintenance of fracture reduction with immobilization technique is done by either non-operative or surgical method.
Non-operative (closed) therapy comprises of casting and splinting.
closed reduction is done for any fracture that is displaced, shortened, or angulated. Splints and casts made up of fiberglass or plaster of Paris material are used to immobilize the limb.
- Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
This is a surgical procedure in which the fracture site is adequately exposed and reduction of fracture is done. It allows accurate fracture reduction wich is required in certain situations (for example, breaks involving joints). Internal fixation is done with devices such as Kirschner wires, plates and screws, and intramedullary nails. This is commonly done for intra-articular and unstable fractures where closed reduction or casting is not possible.
Fractures may take several weeks to months to heal completely (6 to 12 weeks usually). You should limit your activities even after the removal of cast or brace so that the bone become solid enough to bear the stress. Rehabilitation program involves exercises and gradual increase in activity levels until the process of healing is complete.