One of the main goals of fracture management is treating a fracture, which is in simple terms, a broken or cracked bone. A fracture is similar to a crack rather than a complete break. Fractures can be complete or partial and can occur in multiple spots and vary in severity.
Bones are only equipped to structurally withstand a certain amount of force. Although bones do bend to a slight degree, they are for the most part rigid and when force is applied and is too much, they may crack or break. The most common places for fractures include the wrist, leg, ankle, and hip.
Causes of fractures are trauma, such as injury from an accident or physical force, osteoporosis, which weakens bones, and repetitive motion injuries that affect the same muscle and bone over time. These repetitive motion injuries are associated with stress fractures and are often seen in athletes.
There are several types of fractures. A stable fracture is when bones remain lined up but a crack has occurred. Open or compound fractures are when part of the bone punctures the skin. Transverse fractures are horizontal cracks or breaks and oblique fractures are angled cracks.
Symptoms of fractures include tenderness or pain at the point of injury. There will also be swelling and bruising. Although the limb may otherwise appear normal, sometimes there is a deformity if the fracture is severe. Physicians can diagnose fractures by using x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. Fractures are treated by immobilizing the injured limb with a splint, cast, or rods and plates, depending on the severity of the fracture.