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How Different Types of Fractures Are Treated

Most bone fractures are the result of high force impact and happen at the same time as other injuries. While some people call these “broken” bones, doctors rarely use this term, because it isn’t quite an accurate description. Fracture treatment depends on the type of injuries you’ve sustained, the fracture location, the patient’s age, general health, and more.

Bone fractures fall into one or more of these categories, among many others not listed:

  • Avulsion fracture: This type of fracture results when a fragment of bone is pulled from the tendon or ligament, which breaks the bone. Treatment: Rest and icing the affected area are important after sustaining an avulsion fracture. Usually, these fractures can be treated with rest and a support bandage, but surgery may be necessary in more severe cases.
  • Comminuted fracture: These are caused by significant force and energy to splinter the bone into more than 2 fragments. Often, the fractures are caused by serious accidents, such as a car wreck. Treatment: Often, comminuted fractures require surgery to repair. The patient will need to wear a cast to keep the bone from moving during the healing process.
  • Spinal compression fracture: Crushing of the bone causes the broken bone to be wider. It happens when one of more vertebrae of the spine weaken and crumple, usually caused by the loss of bone mass associated with osteoporosis. Treatment: Patients usually need physical therapy and medication for pain relief. Rarely, surgery is needed if the patient experiences severe disability.
  • Dislocated fracture: Dislocation occurs when 2 bones that connect are out of place at the joint site, and there is a fracture at the same time. This type of fracture can cause blood vessel and nerve injury. Treatment: Surgical treatment is required. A dislocated bone that heals improperly is more likely to become dislocated again in the future. Without surgical intervention, there may be serious deformity and loss of function. Usually, surgery can only proceed once the swelling has gone down.
  • Greenstick fracture: These fractures are incomplete and only on one side of the bone, meaning the broken bone has not completely separated. This type of fracture is most common in children because their bones are softer and have more elasticity. Treatment: The fractured bone is kept immobilized for about 4 to 6 weeks, or surgery may be needed to realign the bone. Metal rods or plates may be required to maintain bone alignment during healing.
  • Hairline fracture: These are also partial fractures, but they are sometimes hard to detect on a routine x-ray. Hairline fractures are most common in athletes, especially those who perform repetitive movements. Stress fracture is another term for this type of broken bone. Treatment: Stress fractures usually heal by themselves with rest from the activities that caused the fracture. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs are useful to reduce pain and swelling. Non-weight bearing activities are encouraged to stimulate the recovery process, which usually takes up to 6-8 weeks.
  • Oblique fracture: Also called diagonal fracture, these predominantly occur in a long bone, when the break is on an angle through the bone. Treatment: The course of treatment depends on the severity of the break, but sometimes oblique fractures require surgical reduction to reset the fractured bone. Recovery can take from 4 to 6 months.
  • Spiral fracture: Also called a torsion fracture, these breaks occur when a rotating force is applied along the bone’s axis. Spiral fractures often occur when the body is in motion and twisted. Treatment: The affected limb must be elevated to reduce blood flow and limit swelling. Ice should be applied for about 10 minutes at a time, and acetaminophen is the medication recommended during initial treatment. Surgery is often needed to realign or reduce the broken bone fragments.

All bone fractures require urgent medical attention and you should seek immediate care. To learn more about QualCare Rehabilitation and Allied Medical Centers, please call (713) 588-0042 today to book your appointment.