Fracture Care: Getting the Facts on a Complicated Injury
Injuries can be complicated things. If you’re an athlete with a few years under your belt, you’re probably already aware of this. The general public may not have as much of a reference point, unless some kind of accident occurs. As an athlete, becoming familiar with the various types of injuries and their severity can almost become second nature between getting hurt yourself and seeing the experiences of other athletes.
While torn ligaments, pulled muscles, and bulging discs can be common, the focus here will be on fractures. A fracture can be complicated because there are so many different kinds, each with a different prognosis, treatment, and severity. For example, shoulder fractures alone can range from needing to wear a sling for a few weeks and possible physical therapy after to needing invasive, reconstructive surgery.
Fracture care is never a one size fits all endeavor. If you’ve never had the experience of having that feeling of intense pain and a gut instinct that something was really wrong, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve been there before, your doctor has probably explained one of the following terms to you. Here are the different kinds of fractures an injury might be.
Types of fractures
There’s a wealth of information to dive into when it comes to fractures. Let’s do a quick overview of the major types. Our bones are fairly resilient, assuming one doesn’t suffer with another condition like osteoporosis, but enough force can cause them to break. Not every fracture is a full, clean break. Sometimes you may experience a crack in the bone instead. On the opposite side of the spectrum, like from a gun shot, the bone can shatter entirely.
A comminuted fracture could arguably (more on that in a moment) be the most severe because in this type of fracture, the bone has been broken into three or more pieces. This creates a complicated situation of needing to stabilize different parts of the bone. Automobile accidents and the aforementioned gun shot can cause this kind of shattered fracture.
Compound fractures are quite serious as well, not that any fracture can be dismissed as minor. Complications arise here because in compound fractures, the bone has broken and pierced through the skin. It could even be visible. This makes the injury prone to infection without immediate, proper care.
Stable fractures are the simplest kind. The bone isn’t terribly dislocated and the broken ends line up reasonably well.
A transverse fracture has a horizontal rather than a vertical fracture line.
In an oblique fracture, the break line is angled rather than a straight line.
When to see a doctor
The short answer is: if you’re in significant pain, you should call your doctor. Is there a chance that there isn’t a broken bone? Sure, but you can’t know for sure without professional help. While some people will have feelings of “well there’s nothing to be done, I just need time to heal” and your doctor might tell you all you can do is wait it out, you still need someone with a medical background to diagnose your injury. The complications that come from an untreated injury can be far worse than the initial fracture.
Call your doctor if you experience swelling and tenderness at the point of impact, bruising, or if something appears visually wrong with the area. For example, if your arm appears to be hanging unnaturally. You almost certainly need fracture care quickly in that instance.
Fractures can happen for many reasons and it’s not always blunt force. Advanced osteoporosis can cause fractures seemingly out of nowhere. Overuse can also lead to stress fractures, which is common for athletes, especially runners who can develop stress fractures in their feet. Marathon runners are especially prone to this.
Your doctor will do a comprehensive examination to determine the extent of the damage. It’s rare that some kind of setting won’t need to take place. In many instances, your doctor will need to surgically reset the bone and keep it in place so it can heal. A cast will be put on (if appropriate) to immobilize the limb. Following this initial phase, it may be recommended that you undergo physical therapy to get your strength back.
Fractures are serious and they require prompt correctional care in order to minimize the long term damage that they can cause when not properly addressed. Because fractures are so serious, it’s important that the medical care you seek out is the best. The team at First Choice Medical Group specializes in sports medicine, and orthopaedic care. If you have suffered an injury and are concerned about the lasting effects, contact us. We offer the professional, friendly, and thorough care you need to bounce back from a fracture or any sports related injury you may have suffered.