A bone fracture is also known as a bone break. Essentially, a fracture refers to any break in bone continuity. This break may be a fairly small one or it may be a very severe one in which the bone breaks through the skin (a compound fracture.) In the most extreme examples, for example, a gunshot wound, the bone may fracture and then shatter into pieces.
Fractures happen when too much force is placed on the bone. Since bones are quite strong and rigid, they do have the ability to bounce back from impact to some degree. However, extreme force will push the bone past its ability to rebound and a fracture will result. People who suffer from osteoporosis are more likely to suffer from fractures because their bones are weakened. Even non-severe impact could potentially cause a fracture in an osteoporosis sufferer.
One of the most common types of fracture is the stable fracture. In this kind of fracture, the bone has not been significantly altered and the two broken pieces line up almost perfectly, showing a vertical line where the break is. With a compound fracture, the bone has pierced the skin and the bone can often be clearly seen. In a transverse fracture, the line is horizontal rather than vertical. In oblique fractures, the line moves at an angle. Finally, comminuted fractures cause the bone to splinter into 3 or more parts.
To repair a fracture, the orthopaedic surgeon must place the bone back in its ideal position surgically. To keep the bone from shifting again, some type of immobilization (commonly a cast) is often used. In severe cases, traction may be used to slowly and steadily pull the bones into place. Another option for complicated breaks is the external fixation device. This device uses pins and screws to keep the bones in place as they heal.
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