FRACTURES
Last Updated : 12/24/2009
Dr. Ira Shah
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What is a

fracture

?

When the bones break, the break in the continuity of a bone is called a fracture.

How does a fracture occur?
Usually bones do not break so easily. Due to some trauma, injury or accident, the bones may break. In old people, bones tend to become weak and can fracture even with a minor trauma. In children, bones are very pliant and do not break so easily. Instead they may suffer from ligament tears and muscle injuries more than fractures. Thus, they may present more with sprains rather than fractures.

What are

types of fractures

?

Fractures are of following types:
-

Open fracture

: When the broken bone pierces through the skin and can be seen from outside.
-

Closed fractures

: When the broken bone does not pierce the skin.
-

Complete fracture

: When bone is broken into two pieces
-

Greenstick fracture

: When bone breaks but break is not all throughout and thus no two separate pieces are created.
-

Communited fracture

: When bone breaks into small pieces or is crushed.
-

Hairline fracture

: When there is a small crack in the bone
-

Bending fracture

: Seen in children where the bone bends but does not break.

What are the

symptoms of fracture

?

Pain. It is the most common symptom. Some people may experience the bone pieces moving or even feel them broken.

How is

diagnosis of a fracture

made?

With help of X-Rays, fractures can be identified.

How are fractures treated?

Treatment of Fractures

involves aligning the broken bones together as they were earlier (bone setting) and then putting the limb in cast so that the bones remain in place. The bones may be set by inserting a metal rod, or pinning the bones together or just aligning them properly. Once the fracture heals, the pins are removed. Cast may be in place for 1-3 months.

What are the casts made of?
Casts are made of bandages soaked in plaster which harden to a tough shell, or are made of fiberglass or plastic.

How does a fracture heal?
Bones tend to grow in human body. Thus bone cells will grow over the broken areas till they fuse with each other and close the break. Once fractures heal, it is very difficult to identify the breakage point.

How is the cast removed?
Plaster casts are removed with a saw. Plastic and fiberglass casts can be removed.

Why does the limb itch when in a cast?
The skin underneath the cast tends to become dry and flaky and can lead to itching. This itching can be relived with sprinkling talcum powder through the cast (only in case of closed fracture).

What is

brittle bone disease

?

Brittle bone disease is a term used to identify osteogenesis imperfecta. It is a Genetic disorder when fractures occur spontaneously in newborns, children and even in the unborn due to brittle bones. This is due to genetic problem in the growth of the bone. Newborns can sometimes have 10-15 fractures at a time. Though there is no cure for this condition presently, number of fractures can be reduced by giving bisphosphonates (medicine that prevents destruction of the bone).



Contributor Information and Disclosures

Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B J Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India


First Created : 5/6/2003

References

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