Bones are very rigid structures in the body mostly made up of calcium. They provide a basic structure to the skeletal body and allow us to do many tasks such as walking, running, holding, etc. Bones break when they cannot withstand the external force applied during a traumatic event or due to the weakness of bone because of a pathological cause. Fracture refers to the condition of a broken bone.
According to the way the bones break, fractures are of four categories:
Displaced fractures: Bone breaks into two or more fragments and loses its alignment.
Non-displaced fractures: Bone breaks into fragments but maintains its alignment.
Open fractures: Bone breaks rupturing or making an open wound on the skin.
Closed fractures: Bone breaks, but does not rupture or create an open wound.
Fractures are painful and could limit the movement of fractured area. The common symptoms of fractures include:
- Swelling and tenderness around the fractured area
- Bruise, wound or bleeding
- Bone or limb deformity
Your physician diagnoses bone fracture after complete examination of the injured bone. He/she will also review your symptoms, incident or fracture history, and medical history. Finally, your physician confirms the diagnosis of fracture and the fracture type after locating the broken bone using an X-ray. In few cases, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (contrast tomography) may also be recommended.
Fracture treatment includes conservative management and surgery.
Conservative management involves both pain management and immobilization. Pain killers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are helpful in relieving pain and to treat infection, if any. Immobilizing the fractured area by using a cast, brace or by traction improves the rate of bone healing.
Surgery is recommended for severe fractures and those which fail to heal by conservative management. Surgical procedure includes putting back the broken bones into their original place and fixing them using metal plates, rods and screws.
In external fixation, pins are inserted into the broken bone above and below the damaged area, and those pins are connected to a metal bar outside the skin using screws.
In open reduction process, the bone fragments are fastened together using metal plates and screws on the outer surface of the bone.
In internal fixation, rods are inserted into narrow space of the bone through the center of the bone.
The following measures reduce the fracture risk and prevent fractures:
- Taking proper care to prevent bone injury while riding or doing certain strenuous tasks
- Taking nutritious diet rich in vitamin D and calcium
- Doing regular weight bearing exercises