Basics of Fractures

Basicsof Fractures

Accordingto the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (2012), bones are veryfirm. Even so, bones somewhat “give” and break when they areexposed to a significant amount of external force. A broken bone iswhat is therapeutically referred to as a fracture (AAOS, 2012). Abroken bone may be partly or completely fractured in any of threefashions: multiple pieces, lengthwise, or crosswise. The degree offracture is directly proportional to the force that has caused thebreakage. If the force is extreme, the degree of bone shatter may begreat. On the other hand, if the force is light, bones may only crackrather than breaking all the way through.

Sowhat really causes fractures? The website notes that there are fivecommon causes of fractures: injury, falls, overuse, osteoporosis, andsome types of terminal illnesses like cancer (AAOS, 2012). Injuriesobtained in traumatic incidences like accidents account for a hugenumber of fractures. There are also cases of intentional bonefracture injuries in some patients, contributed to by voluntarilyparticipating in dangerous activities for fun. Also, incidents likefalls from heights cause bone breakage. Bone fractures can also occurwhen they are being overused, particularly among those thatparticipate in sports like rugby, for instance. Osteoporosis makesbones fractures easily because the disease significantly weakensthem. Finally, there are some cancers that cause bones to fracturemore easily (AAOS, 2012).

TheAAOS (2012) website draws attention to the fact that there are manytypes of fractures. However, this essay will discuss the five mostcommon types of fractures, which include:

  • Open/compound fracture- This type of bone breakage is in such a manner that fragments of bone stick out through the skin or an “open” wound penetrates through to the smashed bone. An open fracture is the most serious type of bone breakage because of the broken skin (AAOS, 2012). This implies that the odds of bacterial infection in both the bone and the wound are very high possibly making the situation worse. Figure 1 is an illustration of an open fracture.

  • Simple/closed/stable fracture- This is the type of bone breakage where the broken ends of the bone are in line. The force that causes this breakage is not as extreme as the one that causes an open fracture. Physically, someone might think that there is no breakage because the bones are still in line despite the slight tenderness and swelling that normally occurs around the injury (AAOS, 2012). Figure 2 is an illustration of a simple fracture.

  • Transverse fracture- This is the type of fracture that has a characteristic horizontal fracture line cutting across through the bone. Just like any other bone breakage, this fracture also exhibits the characteristics of a typical fracture (AAOS, 2012). Figure 3 is an illustration of a transverse fracture.

  • Oblique fracture- This is the kind of fracture that has an angled pattern of bone breakage. Depending on the degree of angulation, the bone might appear as a huge bump on the skin. Figure 4 is an illustration of an oblique fracture.

  • Comminuted fracture- In this kind of breakage, the bone splinters into three of more fragments. The force that causes this kind of fracture is often so great that it goes beyond breaking the bone (AAOS, 2012). Figure 5 is an illustration of a comminuted fracture.

Thereare many treatment methods of repairing broken bones, but they allconform to one principle: the shattered pieces should be put back intheir original positions and prevented from moving out of place untilthey are completely rehabilitated. In many occasions, the physicianwill restore fragments of a broken bone back to their initialposition in a process known as “reduction.” Generally, there aretwo approaches for treating fractures: surgical and non-surgical.During a surgical treatment procedure, the fragments of the bone arefirst realigned into their normal configuration (reduced). Thefragments are then held into place with special implants like nails,wires, rods, plates, and screws that are surgically inserted. Theseimplants are durable and strong because they are made of titanium andsteel. If joints are to be replaced, these implants are made ofchrome and cobalt (AAOS, 2012). In a non-surgical treatmentprocedure, the bones are first reduced. Then, a physician places afiberglass or plaster cast over the broken ends of the bones to makesure that they do not move until they completely heal. The functionof the cast is to control or limit the movement of the joints closeto the affected bones (AAOS, 2012). This fashion of treatment ishowever, not suitable for all fractures. Plaster casts work well onsimple fractures.

Thereare various strategies that are used by the PT/OT in therehabilitation of a patient from a fracture. The first strategy ismanual therapy. Using this approach, a physician employs commontactics like massage, stretching, and strengthening exercises toreinstruct the body into appropriate movement mechanics. Secondly, aphysiotherapist can help prevent post-fracture weakness and stiffnessby working on (exercising) adjacent muscles so that they cannot bestiff after full recovery. A PT/OT can also use the electricalstimulation (ESTIM) strategy to restore muscular function after atraumatic injury to the bones and muscles. Finally, a physician canalso use laser therapy, which uses specific wavelengths of light toinduce healing after a fracture (AAOS, 2012). All these areoperational strategies a physician can employ in the rehabilitationof a patient from a fracture.








AmericanAcademy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (2012, October). Fractures (BrokenBones)-OrthoInfo – AAOS. Retrieved September 03, 2016, from