How Do Bones Break And What Are The Most Common Forms Of Broken Bones?
- October 4, 2017
Broken bones are some of the most painful injuries a person can receive, but exactly how do bones break? Generally, a bone will fracture or break, when too much pressure pushes the bone beyond its resiliency. When that happens, the bone will bend, until the force causes it to either completely fracture or crack. The severity of the bone depends on the circumstances and the force applied against the bone.
Causes and Types of Broken Bones
While broken bones are a common injury, especially in traffic accidents, they’re actually very strong and resilient. In most falls or accidents, your bones can absorb vast amounts of pressure, before they do fracture or crack. Typically, bones will only break as the result of a serious accident, falls from great heights, falls on ice or other sleek, slippery surfaces, or from the kind of overuse seen in sports like football and hockey.
In older adults, osteoporosis causes bones to weaken, making them more susceptible to fractures, cracks, and sprains. Similarly, the bones of infants and small children are weaker, because they’re young and still maturing.
There are a number of types of broken bones:
Simple Fracture: This is a clean break into two separate pieces.
Compound Fracture: This is the kind of break in which the bone juts through the skin.
Closed Fracture: An impact breaks the bone, but leaves the skin undamaged.
Spiral Fracture: Usually caused by an incident that twists the bone, forcing the fracture to wind, or spiral, around the bone.
Compression Fracture: The bone is crushed, such as happens when a person is impacted by two objects.
Greenstick Fracture: This is a childhood occurrence, when bones are still developing. One side of the bone will break, while the opposite will bend, as with a green tree branch.
Comminuted Fracture: The bone shatters into three or more fragments.
Transverse Fracture: This type of break occurs across the bone, instead of running down the length of the bone.
Avulsion Fracture: An injury in which the tendon or ligament yanks a piece of the bone away.
Impacted Fracture: Both ends of a bone are pressed inwards, forcing the broken ends together.
Stress Fracture: This is a small crack in the bone, caused by overuse or repetitive use, such as is the case in sports or dancing.
Of these, the simple fracture, compound fracture, transverse fracture, and comminuted fracture are most common. Oblique fractures, those in which the breaks form an angled pattern, are also commonly treated.
Symptoms and Treatment of Broken Bones
If you have broken a bone, chances are good that you know it. The symptoms are anything but subtle, beginning with pain in the bone and the area surrounding the point of injury. The skin around the area may also be red and swollen. Additionally, the breaking of a bone creates a loud pop or cracking sound and, in cases of broken arms and legs, leaves the limb hanging abnormally. You will probably also find it nearly impossible to move that limb or body part in which the broken bone resides.
Certainly, the goal is to see a doctor as soon as possible, but, immediately open breaking the bone, some first aid measures can be taken. The intent in temporarily treating the broken bone is to stabilize it, until it can be properly set by a doctor.
In performing first aid on the broken bone, the first objective is to clean the wound with soap and water. Only gently scrub the wound enough to keep bacteria from entering the wound and infecting the body. Next, cover the wound with a clean dressing or bandage. Finally, it’s important to elevate the injured area and apply ice to reduce swelling.
In cases where the fractured bone is in the arm or leg, create a sling or splint to keep the bone from moving around. This will prevent further internal damage and reduce pain experienced by the patient.
Where the injury may involve a broken upper leg, spine, pelvis, or hip, ensure that the individual stays where he or she is, until trained medical personnel arrive. Allowing the individual to move could cause more damage.
Healing can take weeks or months, depending on the seriousness of the fracture. Healing time also varies, based on the age of the individual. Young children may heal faster, while it may take longer for the bones of older adults to mend.