A fracture is a condition, where the continuity of a bone is broken. A fracture can be open or closed, broken or unbroken. Each type is treated slightly differently. Low bone density and osteoporosis which cause weak bones, can lead to broken limbs, however falls, car crashes and other accidents can cause fractures. In some cases, overuse of limbs can cause a fracture.
With every fracture, it is vital to go to the hospital and to get an x-ray to see the nature of it. However, in some cases e.g.broken toes, treatment can be done effectively at home. if there is someone with an experience or knowledge of broken toes in the household. The people who are most at risk of having a fracture, are young children and people over 50 and those with underlying medical conditions.
- Intense pain
- Deformity – the limb looks out of place
- Swelling, bruising, or tenderness around the injury
- Numbness and tingling
- Problems moving a limb
- Discoloured skin
Other types of fracture:
- Comminuted fracture – shattered bone
- Avulsion fracture – muscle pulls on bone, breaking it
- Hairline fracture – partial fracture
- Pathological fracture – underlying disease, weakens the bone
- Greenstick fracture – fractures on one side of the bone
The goal is to bring the swelling and pain of the patient under control, as quickly as possible. In most cases, immobilisation needs to be used, to prevent the bones from moving, and the fracture from causing more pain or potentially becoming worse. Usually, plaster casing is used to stabilise the fracture over a period of around 6 weeks. Traction is used to align the bones in the correct place and external fixation is used where metallic pins and screws are placed into the bone above and below the fracture sight. In very serious cases, surgery may be required such as open reduction and internal fixation procedures.
Fractures take several months to heal and even after the cast has been taken off the bone may still not be as it was before the fracture occurred.