Things to Remember When Dealing with Bone Fractures

A fracture is where a patient has a break or crack in a bone, whose structure should be continuous. The orthopedic physician in charge of bone fractures at Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, P.C., Dr. Peter Wenger, provides a personalized approach to patients’ conditions to help return mobility to the affected site.

Causes of bone fractures

  • Trauma: When a bone cannot withstand the resistance coming upon it like in a fall or accident.
  • Some twisting from an injury like playing sports or in abuse cases, especially in pediatrics.
  • Disease: Bone cancer or osteoporosis.

Facts about bone fractures

Children tend to heal faster than adults when they experience bone fractures because the periosteum, a dense fibrous membrane covering the bone, is stronger, thicker, and more flexible.

Healing time for bone fractures is anywhere from three to twelve weeks. However, it varies in adults depending on how healthy they are or developing complications in the process.

Some complications with bone fractures include infection, compartment syndrome, fat embolism, or nerve and vessel damage.

Types of bone fractures

When analyzing your fracture, your doctor will assess three major issues:

  1. First, did the bone break through the skin?
  • A fracture where the bone breaks through the skin is called an open or compound fracture.
  • A fractured bone that does not penetrate through the skin, therefore the skin remains intact is called a closed or simple fracture.
  1. Is the bone completely or partly broken?
  • A complete fracture is where the bone is completely separated into two.
  • An incomplete fracture is where the bone does not break all the way through.
  1. What are the details or patterns of the fracture?
  •         Greenstick fracture is where one side of the bone is bent while the other is broken; this is a common fracture in abused pediatric patients.
  • A comminuted fracture is where the bone is broken into many fragments
  • A transverse fracture is straight across the bone shaft.
  • An oblique fracture is slanted across the bone shaft.
  • Slanted fractures twist around the bone shaft and can be from a twisting-type injury.

Signs and symptoms of patients with bone fractures

Bone fractures are diagnosed with an X-ray that helps determine the type which influences the treatment approach that a physician will take. Crucial signs of fractured bones include:

  • Bruising with pain and swelling at the site.
  • Reduced movement: A patient is not able to move their extremity as well as they normally do. The physician should first mobilize the affected area to reduce movement that may cause more muscle and tissue damage or further displacement of the bone, which will alter the healing or cause more pain.
  • Odd appearance: This sign depends on the fracture type; for example, the bone will be sticking out of the skin for compound fractures.
  • Crackling sound: When the bone fractures are rubbing together like in a comminuted fracture.
  • Edema and erythema at the site, which is redness and swelling.
  • Neurovascular impairment: A patient should look out for pain, pallor, paralysis, paresthesia, pulselessness, and poikilothermia.

Treatments for bone fractures

Different treatment approaches are dependent on the type of bone fracture a patient has. For example, a doctor may use a splinting device to immobilize the fracture to heal properly. Applying pressure using a clean cloth is necessary for bleeding sites, and sterile covers help reduce the risk of infections. Contact Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, P.C. to learn about the available emergency care approaches for bone fractures.