Fracture

Definition

A fracture is a break in any bone in the body. There are different kinds of fracture:
  • The bone may be fractured but stable, which is known as a simple fracture or a closed fracture.
  • Bone fragments may be sticking through the skin, which is known as a compound fracture or an open fracture.
Fractures may also be described as:
  • Chip (avulsion fracture)—A small piece of bone is broken away from the main bone and usually attached to a ligament or tendon.
  • Compression—The bone is compressed together, such as vertebrae.
  • Comminuted—The bone is in pieces.
  • Greenstick—One side of the bone is broken and the other side is bent but not broken.
  • Intra-articular—The joint is affected.
  • Growth plate fracture —A child's developing tissue is fractured.
  • Transverse—The bone is broken in a horizontal line that is perpendicular to the surface of the bone cortex.
  • Oblique—The bone is broken in a line that is less than a 90° angle to the surface of the bone cortex.
  • Spiral—The line of the fracture forms a spiral.
  • Stress—A thin fracture line occurs due to overuse rather than a single traumatic incident.
The Bones of the Body
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Causes

Fractures are caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
  • Falls
  • Twists
  • Blows
  • Collisions
Trauma is a physical force applied to the bone that the bone cannot withstand. Stronger bones can withstand more physical force than weaker bones.

Risk Factors

Fractures are more common in older adults. Factors that increase the risk of fracture include:
  • Postmenopause
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Osteoporosis —decreased bone mass which weakens bones and affects both men and women
  • Certain medication used to treat type 2 diabetes
  • Accidents or violence
  • Participation in sports
  • Malnutrition
  • Certain chronic diseases
  • Child abuse
  • Inactivity
  • Conditions that increase the risk of falls, such as nerve or muscle disorders
  • Certain congenital bone conditions—rare

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