There are 206 bones in the human body and all of them stand a chance of being fractured, with the average person suffering two broken bones in their lifetime. Fractures typically heal within several weeks to months, depending on the severity of the injury.
A fracture occurs when the force exerted on a bone is greater than the strength of the bone. The severity of a fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break. If the bone’s breaking point has been exceeded only slightly, then the bone may crack rather than break all the way through. If the force is extreme, such as in an automobile crash or a gunshot, the bone may shatter.
High-impact force Although bones can bend slightly and absorb a small impact, a force that’s too great will lead to a fracture. Falls, physical activity such as contact sports, and motor vehicle accidents often involve high-impact forces that can lead to fractures. If the bone breaks in such a way that bone fragments stick out through the skin or a wound penetrates down to the broken bone, the fracture is called an open fracture. This type of fracture is particularly serious because once the skin is broken, infection in both the wound and the bone can occur.
Overuse If you perform the same task again and again, over time the repetitive motion will begin to wear on your body. As your muscles tire from the repetitive motion, they may begin to rely more on your bones for support. This causes extreme stress on your bones and can result in a fracture.
Diseases and conditions There are certain diseases and conditions that cause the bones to break down quickly or weaken, making them more susceptible to fractures. A fracture that’s caused by a medical condition is known as a pathological fracture.
The following are two of the conditions that affect the bones and make them more susceptible to fractures:
Osteoporosis This bone condition causes reduced bone density, making bones thinner and more fragile. Your hips, vertebrae, and wrists are especially prone to fractures if you have osteoporosis. This condition is especially common among women.
Metastatic bone disease This occurs when cancer begins in an organ or other body part then spreads to the bone. Breast, lung, thyroid, kidney, and prostate cancer are the ones that most commonly spread to the bone
Your treatment method will depend on the severity of your fracture. If the bones are not properly aligned, they will require realignment. The technical term is a reduction. After a reduction has been obtained, your orthopaedic surgeon may use a variety of treatment methods:
To treat a bone fracture, the bones will need to be held together in the correct position until they heal. A plaster or fiberglass cast is applied to the fractured bones to keep the ends in place while they heal.
Functional cast or brace
For less severe fractures, a functional cast or brace is applied that allows the joints to move minimally.
This device creates a steady pulling action to maintain bone alignment. This is most often temporary while awaiting surgery.
With this procedure, pins and screws are inserted into the bone near the fracture and connected to a metal bar outside the body that holds the bone in place so it can heal. This device may also be used until surgery is performed when soft tissues are badly damaged.
Open reduction and internal fixation
This operation repositions bone fragments in their original alignment, and screws or metal plates are attached to hold them together. Rods may also be inserted through the marrow space in the bone.
Closed reduction and internal fixation
Instead of opening the fracture site your surgeon will do a closed reduction under image guidance in operation theatre and give incisions away from the fracture site and insert a metallic rod or plate to hold the broken pieces of bone together till the time it heals. This procedure is commonly used in fractures of the lower limb.
Your fracture will probably take anywhere from several weeks to several months to heal. The recovery time will depend on the severity of the fracture. Your pain typically won’t last for a long time after treatment has begun, but it will take a little longer until the bone can handle the stress of normal activity.
During your recovery, you will likely lose muscle strength in the injured area. Specific exercises will help you restore normal muscle strength, joint motion and flexibility.