A broken bone, or fracture, is when the bone breaks or splits due to accident, injury or other preexisting medical conditions such as osteoporosis, infection or a tumor. Those caused by medical conditions are known as pathological fractures. The majority of broken bones, or fractures, result from vehicle accidents or bad falls, and older people are far more susceptible to serious injuries like broken bones or fractures than are young children, whose bones are softer and still relatively elastic.
While auto accidents and falls are the cause of most fractures, there are actually many cases of surprisingly minor incidents resulting in a broken bone or fracture, and even repetitive strains and stresses can fracture a bone. Fractures caused by such motion and activity are known as stress fractures and are more commonly seen in athletes.
If someone has been injured or in an accident and you suspect a broken bone, there are several signs and symptoms one might experience or want to watch for.
- Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, and it frequently accompanies a broken bone or fracture. When the nervous system is stimulated negatively, it can cause discomfort or pain. From annoying to debilitating, pain may feel as minor as a dull ache or as extreme as a sharp, stabbing sensation and can be described, among other things, as aching, throbbing, sharp, or dull.
- Swelling is when tissues become abnormally enlarged and is frequently caused by an accumulation of fluids. With a fracture or broken bone, there is often swelling around the affected area as circulation is impeded by the injury.
- Bruises, or contusions, are when the fine, surface blood vessels known as capillaries burst beneath the skin and remain trapped, resulting in a typically purplish discoloration. There are a multitude of reasons a person might bruise, including a broken bone or fracture, and certain medical conditions and medications can increase the risk of bruising.
- Limited mobility or loss of function can signify a fracture. If the patient is unable to move the affected area, don’t force it or attempt to move it manually. Keep it as stable as possible until you can be examined by a medical professional.
- A grating sensation might be felt in the area of the broken bone or fracture when moved, caused by bone rubbing against itself in an unusual and unnatural manner.
- Bleeding often occurs with open fractures. An open or compound fracture is when the bone pierces through the skin or damages surrounding tissue. If there is no breakage of the skin or tissue damage, it is known as a closed fracture. If you or someone you know is bleeding profusely from an open wound out of which a bone is protruding, please get off the internet and seek immediate medical attention.
- A visibly misshapen or out-of-place bone or joint is an obvious indication of a broken bone or fracture. If, for instance, there is a bend in your arm where one didn’t exist previously, seek an x-ray to determine the cause, extent and severity of the injury.
- The inability to bear weight can sometimes be a sign of a broken bone or fracture. Try not to bear weight (like standing) on the affected area as much as possible until you’ve been seen by a medical professional to avoid potentially worsening the injury.
- Bone protruding through the skin is probably the most obvious signs of a broken bone or fracture. As previously mentioned, this is called an open or compound fracture. Compound fractures typically are far more serious than closed fractures, where there is much less damage to the surrounding skin and tissues.
- General malaise can occur with broken bones or fractures, particularly when a large bone is involved. The trauma of breaking a large bone such as the femur or the pelvis can cause symptoms that one might not routinely associate with a fracture, such as nausea and vomiting. Their skin might become pale and clammy, and they could experience dizziness or feel faint.
If you or someone know are concerned about a possible fracture, please make an appointment to see us, and enjoy the ease and convenience of our in-office x-ray capabilities.