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How Do You Know if You Have a Fracture?

08 August, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

How do you know if you or your child has a bone fracture? If you see a bone actually protruding through the skin, you can be quite certain you’re dealing with a broken bone. These types of injuries are known as open fractures or compound fractures and require immediate medical attention. Since the skin is disrupted there is a great risk of infection and hence open fractures are surgically cleaned and fractures stabilized before a cast is applied.

Closed fractures, on the other hand, are much less obvious to the eye. There are no bones protruding from the skin and the term ‘bone fracture’ is used to indicate either a crack or break in the bone. Since you may have sustained a severe injury (with damage to tendons, joints, and ligaments) without actually breaking anything, the only way to know for sure if your bone is broken is via an X-Ray.

Types of Fractures

While fractured arms and fractured legs are the most well-known types of orthopedic injuries, broken toes, broken fingers, broken ankles, and stress fractures are also common.

In addition to open fractures and closed fractures, there are in fact a number of different types of fractures, including:

  • Stress Fracture (small cracks in the bone caused by overuse)
  • Simple Fracture (bone is broken in only one place)
  • Comminuted Fracture (broken bone has several bone fragments)
  • Undisplaced Fracture (broken bone pieces are aligned)
  • Displaced Fracture (broken bone pieces are not aligned)
  • Transverse Fracture (fracture is located at a right angle to the long axis of the bone)
  • Greenstick Fracture (fracture is located on one side of the bone, causing the other side of the bone to bend)

Signs and Symptoms of a Fracture

If you suspect that you or your child has a fractured bone, seek emergency medical care immediately. Common signs and symptoms of a broken bone include:

  • Bone has pierced the skin and is sticking out
  • Misshapen or abnormal position of the affected limb
  • Severe pain and/or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Limited mobility
  • Unable to move the affected limb
  • Treatment for Fractured Bones

The treatment you will receive depends on the type of fracture sustained and the specific bones involved. Treatments for fractures include:

  • Application of a splint to help mobilize bones
  • Application of a plaster cast until initial swelling goes down
  • Application of a water-resistant fiberglass cast to keep bones from moving as they heal
  • External Fixation, wherein pins, plates, or screws are used to set the bone in place
  • and are later removed once the bone has healed
  • Internal Fixation, wherein screws, wires, or metal rods are inserted via a surgical procedure to keep bone fragments together

Cast Care

To help ensure that your fractured arm or fractured leg heal properly and in the shortest amount of time, protect your cast by investing in high-quality cast cover. Also known as a cast protector, today’s cast covers come in wide range of styles and colors and are especially designed to help keep your cast dry in the bath, shower, and even the swimming pool.


Image courtesy of Free Digital Photo

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