If you participate in physical activities such as contact sports or weight-bearing exercises, then you are at a higher risk of having an injury that includes a broken bone. Falling down or receiving a strong blow to the body can fracture a bone in different ways. A simple fracture could occur when the bone breaks into two pieces, or when there is a hairline fracture. In some cases, the bone may break in three places, which is referred to as a comminuted fracture. Alternatively, a compound fracture is more dangerous because a piece of broken bone pokes through the skin. These broken bones can also be referred to as a closed fracture site and open fracture site.
A physician can examine you along with collecting an X-ray to determine what type of fracture is present. There are specific types of fractures, including:
- Avulsion – breaks caused by a ligament being pulled from surrounding tissue
- Hairline – partial breaks of the fractured area
- Stress – fractures caused by strain or repetitive motion
- Longitudinal – breaks that occur along the length of bones
- Transverse – breaks that occur across the width of the bone
If you have a compound fracture, then it is obvious because you will see the bones poking through your skin, and internal tissues will bleed causing you sudden pain trouble. This deep wound is at risk for serious infection. With closed fractures, there is still pain, but you may not be certain if the bone is broken until you have the fracture diagnosed. Both bone fractures constitute a medical emergency that requires professional medical care.
- Immobility of the injured area
- Bruising and swelling of the skin over the bone
- Intense pain while trying to stand or lift an object
- Pain where the injury happened
Though synonyms, not many people realize that a fracture is a break, so even though the break may not go completely through the injured bone, a broken arm is the same as a fracture. Children are less likely to break a bone because their bone heals quickly. Senior citizens, on the other hand, can break a bone easily due to nearby joints being weakened and the same bone being worn down by repeated stress.
For most fractures, a physician adjusts the bone fragments into the correct positions before providing a cast or a splint. However, many compound fractures require repair with surgery to place the bones in the correct locations or to add metal rods, or metal plates. The internal fixation of a metal frame attached to bone makes the bones strong. After hospitalization, you will wear a cast for several weeks while the bone fracture heals. Fractures in the hips, neck, or back are particularly dangerous, and you should call paramedics immediately for assistance to avoid additional damage to the body’s nerves or organs. For simple fractures, it is okay to go to an urgent care clinic for fracture treatment.
If you have broken or fractured a bone then it is imperative that you get immediate medical care. Come into WellCare Urgent Care Center in Grand Rapids so that we can give you the treatment you need. We offer same-day appointments at both our Cascade and Leonard locations.
How long will it take a fracture to heal?
Most fractures heal in about 6-8 weeks. However, minor fractures can heal in as little as 4 weeks and serious fractures, such as a tibia fracture, can take up to 20 weeks.
Is a break worse than a sprain?
This is a more complex question that you might think since it depends on the severity of the sprain and the break. High grade sprains can be just as bad or worse than a fracture and just as painful.
How do I know if I have a sprain or a broken bone?
The symptoms of sprains and breaks are very similar so it can be difficult to tell them apart. However, if you hear an audible crunch, see a deformity in the limb, or are unable to put weight on the injury, you likely have a break. When in doubt, come in for an X-Ray to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
Do I need surgery for my broken bone?
If you have a severe break, such as multiple fractures on one bone, you may need surgery to repair the damage. However, low grade fractures are sometimes treatable by setting the broken bone in a cast or splint.
What happens if I do not receive treatment for my fracture?
It is important to treat a fracture as soon as possible so that the bone heals properly. After a fracture, new bone tissue forms to connect the pieces but if the area is unstable, the bone will reconnect unstably or not at all.