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Bone Fractures

fractured legOne of the first things you learn as a physician in Orthopaedics is how to repair or fix fractured bones.  In medical lingo, we call this “reduction”.  In this article, I’m going to discuss the ten types of fractures and how they are classified by mechanism of injury and description.  They are:

Mechanism of Injury

  1. Avulsion Fracture – when a bone fragment is pulled or “avulsed” off by a tendon or a ligament, we call it an avulsion fracture.  These fractures are more commonly seen in children than in adults.
  2. Compression Fracture – when a bone is crushed causing it to become wider and flatter than before, this is a compression fracture.  These are commonly seen in the spinal vertebrae of osteoporotic patients.
  3. Greenstick Fracture – this occurs mostly in children, and as the name references, the bone bends, and breaks, but does not come apart, just like a young sapling might do.
  4. Impacted Fracture – the force of the injury the breaks the bone also causes the ends of the bone to be driven into one another.
  5. Stress Fracture – the most common fracture type – is characterized by tiny, hairline fractures in the bone.  These fractures are caused by repetitive motion, such as running, which over time, stress the bones.  These hairline fractures or cracks may be hard to see under x-ray.

Description of Fracture

  • Transverse Fracture – this straight-line fracture across the bone is typically seen from high force trauma in accidents or falls. Learn more >
  • Comminuted Fracture – this is where a bone is broken into three or more pieces and often bone fragments will be present at the site of the break.  Frequently seen in motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports injuries. Learn more >
  • Oblique Fracture – this fracture line occurs diagonally across mostly the long bones of the body and most often occurs after blunt force trauma or from a fall.
  • Segmental Fracture – This is where a bone breaks in two places leaving a floating “segment” between breaks.  This typically occurs in long bones and may cause complications in healing.
  • Spiral Fracture – this fracture spirals around the bone and can occur in the long bones of the arms or legs.  This type of fracture is most often seen after a physical attack or in some sort of twisting injury during sports.

Treating these different types of fractures, based on their classification, will be in a series of articles to come written by other orthopaedic physicians at OSC.

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