A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Your 2 most common broken bone questions answered

If you’ve ever suffered a hard hit or fall, two questions often come to mind. Is anything broke? And if yes, how bad is the break?

With those questions in mind, we took a deep dive into the world of broken bones, identifying severity, symptoms and types.

types of bone fractures informative chartFractures are classified by severity:

  • Incomplete fractures don’t extend completely through the bone.
  • Non-displaced fractures completely break the bone but the ends stay aligned.
  • Displaced fractures will cause bone ends to no longer align and have potential to damage surrounding tissue.
  • Open fractures protrude from the skin.

Is it broken?

If a bone is broke it may be hard to tell.
These symptoms are common:

  • Tenderness over the bone.
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Limb deformity.
  • Increased pain with motion.
  • Limited or no ability for movement.
  • Grinding or grating feel or sound with movement.
  • Inability to bear weight.

11 types of broken bones

Given varying degrees of severity, numerous types of bone fractures exist:

  • Avulsion – bone separates at a ligament or tendon attachment.
  • Impacted – bone compresses into the bone tissue usually in the long axis of the bone.
  • Spiral – sudden rotation or twist while the foot is firmly planted breaks bone.
  • Oblique – a sudden twist of one end of the bone while the other remains fixed.
  • Transverse – a fracture across the shaft caused by a direct blow.
  • Linear – a fracture along the length of the bone.
  • Comminuted – three or more fragments at the site of the break.
  • Greenstick – an incomplete break in a young bone; common in adolescents.
  • Contrecoup – fracture that occurs at a site opposite from point of blow.
  • Depressed – a flat bone fracture that causes a depression.
  • Blowout – fracture at the orbit of the eye.

Keep your workout stress-free

Stress fractures are the most common fracture injury in athletes. These fractures occur when too much stress is put on a bone by doing too much, too fast and too soon.

Tips to avoid stress fractures:

Know what to do

Although symptoms may not be immediately clear, fracture injuries should be taken seriously. If you suspect a bone fracture, take these actions:

  • For serious injury to the head, neck or back do not move the athlete and call 911.
  • If a broken bone is sticking through the skin, call for help and attempt to control bleeding.
  • For less serious injuries apply ice. If you’re able, splint the injury in the position found with ridged materials like a piece of cardboard, elastic bandage and tape. Seek medical care.

This post provided by Sports Wrap, from Marshfield Clinic Sports Medicine

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