A break in a bone usually is caused by trauma. There are many different categories of fractures that occur. Complete fractures represent injuries where the broken bone is separated completely. Incomplete (greenstick) fractures, occur when the broken bone is not completely separated. Comminuted fractures represent injuries that has caused the bone to break into more than two bone fragments. Open fractures, or compound fractures, occur where the fractured bone has resulted in breaking the skin. Closed fractures are those which have not penetrated the skin. Compression fractures develop when the bone is compressed beyond its intrinsic strength and collapses. Impacted fractures occur when the broken ends have been driven into each other. Avulsion fracture describe a condition where a force has been applied to a strong tendon, causing it to pull on and break off a portion of bone. Pathologic fractures develop when a break occurs from minor injury. It usually occurs in a bone that has been weakened by diseases such as osteoporosis or cancer. Stress fractures are an unusual case of fractures. Here, a crack in a bone develops, caused by repetitive and prolonged pressure on the bone, usually by intense exercise.
Causes of Bone Fracture
Signs and Symptoms of Bone Fracture
All fractures produce similar symptoms. They include principally pain and swelling at the fracture site. There is tenderness close to the fracture. Bleeding and bruising at the site of the fracture is common. The function of an extremity may not be able to be performed due to the fractured bone. The blood vessels and nerves may be injured by the fracture. This can result in tingling, numbness or paralysis in areas below the fracture. These can represent an emergency situation. In addition, if an artery has been damaged or compressed, the extremity may appear pale and without a pulse. This is also an emergency to try and preserve the limb. Occasionally fractures are associated with compartment syndromes. Here, swelling of the tissues adjacent to the fracture can raise the pressure in the tissues so much that blood cannot pass through this area. This represents a limb threatening and at times a life threatening situation.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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