There is quite a number of different types of broken bones. There are 206 bones in the human body, and each one of them can be broken or fractured.
Bones are extremely rigid compared to other physiological structures in the body, such as muscles. However, they can take a small amount of bending when force is applied. If this force is too great, then they break, as will any load-bearing structure when its weight tolerance has been exceeded.
Bone breaks or fractures come in a number of different varieties:
- Stable fracture: The broken parts of the bone line up together and are minimally displaced.
- Compound open fracture: The skin can be pierced by the broken part of the bone. This may or may not be visible. This type of fracture is also known as a “greenstick” fracture
- Transverse fracture: The fracture line is horizontal (flat) in this instance.
- Oblique fracture: The fracture line is angled (not flat).
- Comminuted fracture: The bone has shattered into multiple pieces.
There are a number of common causes for fractures. These are trauma to the area, such as being hit by a vehicle or falling of a horse. A wasting disease called Osteoporosis, which is a lessening of density of the bone (the bone literally becomes more porous) and causes an increased likelihood of breakage.
Another possible cause is overuse; a common complaint for applicants training for the special forces are stress fractures due to overuse. Bones are excellent at responding to a repeated load and strengthening themselves over time to accommodate that load. However, if the stress of the load is more than the bone can initially bear, overuse or stress fractures can occur.
There are a number of symptoms to look for when a bone is suspected of being broken. Some are obvious, while others are less so:
- Extreme initial pain
- Swelling at the fracture site
- Nagging pain
Doctors make their bread and butter from bone fractures and are very experienced in telling whether a bone has been broken. A proper diagnosis can often be made from the initial examination where the limb will be put through a full range of movement. The doctor will also feel the area and assess the patient’s discomfort.
However, there is a secret weapon that medical professionals deploy that leads to hardly any margin of error. This is the X-ray machine. By taking a picture of the affected area, doctors can look at the results and clearly see if a bone is intact or not.
There are a number of treatment options available depending on the type and severity of the fracture. These are as follows:
- Cast immobilisation: The area in question is immobilised by a cast once it has been treated to provide a safe medium for the bone to fix itself and grow stronger. No interference can happen to the area because of the immobilisation.
- Functional cast: This allows for some freedom of movement in the area (think elbow or knee) but is only really suitable for some types of fractures.
- Traction: This is used to apply constant force to an area to help the bones align. Much like the principle of braces on teeth.
- External fixation: This involves constructing an exoskeleton around the affected area: literally drilling metal screws into the bone around the area and applying a scaffolding so that all of the bones are held in the correct position for the duration of the healing period.
There are a number of resources where you can earn more about types of broken bones: