A fracture is a break or crack in a bone that occurs when the bone cannot withstand outside forces, often as a result of trauma or disease. Fracture, break and crack all refer to the same thing. Fractures can range from a small crack in the bone to complete separation. They are often caused by a fall, motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Normal activities can also cause fractures for people at a higher risk, including those with low bone density (osteoporosis), bone tumors, cancer or brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta).
Some of the different types of fractures include:
- Stress Fracture – A stress fracture occurs as a result of overuse. Because of repeated use, the bone becomes weak and cannot absorb the shock that is put on it. It is common in the lower leg or foot and especially among athletes.
- Compression Fracture – A compression fracture occurs as a result of old age. People with osteoporosis are at high risk for this type of fracture because their bones lose calcium. The weakened bones, usually in the spine, can crumple under the force of gravity.
- Incomplete (Greenstick) Fracture - A greenstick fracture occurs when the bone bends but does not completely break. This occurs most often in children, who have high levels of calcium in their bones.
- Comminuted Fracture – This occurs when the bone cracks into several fragments. It occurs as a result of high impact trauma or osteoporosis.
A bone fracture causes pain, swelling and sometimes bruising of the affected area. Applied weight or pressure causes even more severe pain. They are usually easy to diagnose, but treatment requires precision and care by experienced professionals.
At Stony Brook Orthopaedics, we offer specialized knowledge and care for the treatment of fractures. Our doctors will treat your injury every step of the way until it is completely healed. Bone fractures can be diagnosed through a physical examination and an X-ray or CT scan. Immobilizing the area is often helpful in relieving pain before proper treatment begins. Treatment for bone fractures depends on the location and type of fracture, as well as the patient’s medical history. We take all of these factors into account when developing a treatment plan.
Mild fractures, including stress and greenstick fractures, usually only require the conservative treatment methods of ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Moderate fractures may require splints or braces along with pain medication. The immobilization helps relieve pain and speed up recovery. More severe fractures may require surgical treatment, especially open fractures with wounds that need to be closed.
After the proper treatment is performed, the rehabilitation process begins. It is important to care for your fracture while it heals. Full healing can take several weeks to several months. Your doctor will advise you on how to care for your fracture and helpful measures you can take to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.