What is a fracture?
A fracture, also known as a broken bone, is a condition that changes the contour or shape of the bone. A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone when more force is applied to the bone than the bone can absorb.
Fractures are very common and can be caused by several things. People break bones in sports injuries, car accidents, falls, or osteoporosis (bone weakening due to aging). Although most fractures are caused by trauma, they can also be caused by an underlying disease such as cancer or severe osteoporosis. Serious orthopedic fractures and injuries often require both immediate and follow-up care. Fracture care and reconstruction include preoperative evaluations, diagnostic imaging scans, surgical repair, wound care, and the application and removal of casts and splints.
At Baptist Health, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons have advanced training and can provide complete care when it comes to any type of fracture. Different types of fractures that our team specialize in include:
- Closed Fracture. A closed fracture occurs when the skin is not broken or open.
- Compound Fracture. A compound fracture occurs when the skin is open at the fracture site, and the risk of infection is significant.
- Displaced Fracture. A displaced fracture occurs when there is a gap between the two ends of the bone. A displaced fracture often requires surgery to repair.
- Partial Fracture. A partial fracture occurs when the break in the bone is incomplete.
- Complete Fracture. A complete fracture occurs when the bone breaks completely, causing it to be separated into two or more pieces.
- Hairline Fracture. A hairline fracture is also known as a stress fracture. It occurs when the fracture is so thin that it may be challenging to see with a regular X-ray.
What are the symptoms of a fracture?
Signs and symptoms of fractures throughout the body include:
- Arm: Pain, swelling, abnormal bend, difficulty using or moving, warmth, bruising, or redness
- Elbow: Pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, a ‘pop’ noise at the time of fracture, or visible deformity
- Wrist: Pain, swelling, decreased use of hand and wrist, a crooked or deformed appearance, and unable to hold a grip
- Hand: Pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, stiffness, and weakness. Deformities are not always visible.
- Finger: Pain, swelling, unable to move the finger, a shortened finger, or a depressed knuckle
- Leg: Severe pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, obvious deformity, and the inability to walk
- Knee: Pain, swelling, bruising, inability to straighten the knee, and the inability to walk
- Ankle: Severe pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, bruising, deformity, and the inability to walk
- Foot: Severe pain, swelling, bruising, numbness in toes and foot, decreased range of motion, inability to walk comfortably, and visible deformity
- Toe: Pain, swelling, discoloration, and bruising. You should be able to walk, but not comfortably.
How are fractures treated?
If a fracture is suspected, you should always seek medical treatment. The treatment goal is to control the pain, promote healing, prevent complications, and restore regular use of the fractured area. Treatment for the fracture may include:
- A splint or cast to immobilize the injured area promotes bone alignment and healing to protect the injured area from motion or use.
- Medication is prescribed to control the pain.
- Traction is the application of a force to stretch certain parts of the body in a specific direction. Traction consists of pulleys, strings, weights, and a metal frame attached over or on the bed. The purpose of traction is to stretch the muscles and tendons around the broken bone to allow the bone ends to align and heal.
- Surgery may be required to put certain types of broken bones back into place. Occasionally, internal fixation (metal rods or pins located inside the bone) or external fixation devices (metal rods or pins located outside of the body) hold the bone fragments in place to allow alignment and healing.
What are the additional services available?
In addition to fractures, the orthopedic trauma specialists at Baptist Health have unique expertise and training to treat other injuries. Our comprehensive orthopedic trauma capabilities include:
- Comprehensive adult fracture care
- Comprehensive pediatric fracture care
- Multi-system trauma care
- Ligament repair and reconstruction
- Pelvis and acetabular fracture care
- Treatment of malunions and nonunions
- Treatment of bone loss with grafting and transport
- Treatment for fracture-related infections and osteomyelitis
- Complex intra-articular fractures
- Treatment/revision of failed fixation
- Complex upper and lower extremity reconstruction
If you have questions about the orthopedic trauma care available through Baptist Health or need help requesting an appointment with a provider, please call the Baptist Health Healthline at (888) 227-8478.