We are born with 270 bones; by adulthood many of those bones have fused together, leaving us with 206 bones that support every step and movement we make for the rest of our lives. Over the course of a lifetime, it’s highly probable that one of these 206 bones will sustain a fracture. Here is more to know about the different types of fractures.
Bones break due to an outside force, such as a fall or a car accident; they can also fracture due to natural causes such as disease or poor diet. Understand that a fracture is the same as a break, though some fractures/breaks are less severe than others. Knowing which sort of fracture you have will allow your orthopedist to provide tailored care, and will also help you determine how long it may take you to recover.
There are three anatomical terms related to bone fractures and help describe where on our bodies the fracture occurred.
- Anterior breaks are toward the front of the body.
- Distal positioning refers to a break that is away from the center.
- Lateral fractures occur at the outer edges of the body.
- Medial fractures are toward the middle of the body.
- Posterior fractures are located toward the back.
- Proximal breaks are centered close to the body.
Once the area of the body where the fracture has occurred has been defined, your doctor will determine the sort of fracture that occurred. They include:
- Stable fracture – a bone that is broken, but with minimal damage. The ends of the bones line up, nearly matching, allowing for easier healing than with more severe fractures.
- Transverse fractures – When a transverse fracture occurs, an X-ray of the bone will reveal it was fractured along a horizontal line. Transverse fractures are fractured clean through, or perpendicular to the bone.
- Oblique fractures – occur along a diagonal plane, usually with longer bones such as the femur or tibia.
- Comminuted fractures –considerable force or extreme trauma results in fractures, splinters, and fragments that can’t align back up. Far from a clean break, comminuted fractures usually require surgery and long recovery periods.
- Displaced fractures are similar to comminuted fractures in that the bone snaps into two or more parts. However, the bone can be re-aligned, meaning the ends of the bones can be matched up to heal. No matter how the bone is affected, with displaced fractures the alignment will remain in place.
- Open fractures are commonly known as compound fractures; these breaks result in sharp ends of the fractured bone breaking through the skin of the affected area. This can occur in two ways. Either the bone breaks through the skin or it is exposed through a wound that occurs naturally at the time of the accident. In such a case the bone may or may not be visible through the wound.
It may not be apparent in some cases that a bone has broken, but if painful symptoms are present and unabated, don’t take a chance. The Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine treats traumatic bone fractures and provides trauma care. We also address hairline fractures and take every break and orthopedic condition seriously, because it is. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 210-692-7400.