The ABCs of a Broken Bone

Facts About Fevers
January 18, 2018
Candace & the Flu Season
January 24, 2018

Traumatologist is taking care of the patient

Buckle, greenstick, sprain, and transverse! These terms are just some of the many ways that doctors diagnose a broken bone. But what do they mean? Whether you’ve broken a bone before or not, you have probably heard these words tossed around in the healthcare world, but do we have any idea what they mean?

Join us, as The Colony ER Hospital teaches you the ABCs of broken bones.

Broken, or Fractured?

First and foremost, physicians refer to broken bones as bone fractures. While this might seem like a small technical detail that doesn’t make much of a difference, talking about injured bones in terms of fractures can actually include more than just a broken bone.

Fracture refers to a broad category of bone injuries, from a complete break to a crack in the bone. While the term “broken bone” might sound more painful than the term “fractured bone,” a fracture can sometimes be more dangerous.

There are two general terms for deciding how a bone is fractured:

  • Compound Fracture (AKA: Open Fracture): This fracture is when a bone breaks, and it protrudes through the skin. This can be a more difficult fracture to treat, depending on the severity of the fracture. With the skin penetrated, chances of infection go up, and sometimes surgery is required to repair and replace bone fragments.
  • Simple Fracture (AKA: Closed Fracture): this kind of fracture is when a bone is broken, but it does not penetrate the skin. These fractures can be easier to treat, as the risk of infection is low.

Simple and compound are not the only kinds of fracture, though. These are just the two biggest categories. There are medical diagnoses for many different, specific, kinds of fractures, whether they are open or closed.

  • Avulsion Fracture: this fracture is when a small piece of bone is torn off from the rest. Often caused by hard pulls or different impact-related injuries in sports accidents.
  • Buckle Fracture: this fracture refers to a bulge in a bone, that comes as a result as the bone being pressed down on its two opposite ends. It usually happens in falls and impact injuries, such as falling with your arms out, or locking your knees before jumping. This is sometimes called a “FOOSH,” or Falling On Out-Stretched Hand.
  • Comminuted Fracture: this means the bone has been broken into many pieces, either in a simple or compound fracture.
  • Greenstick Fracture: this is when a bone bends and breaks to one side, but not all the way through—like a crack on one side of the bone. These fractures are seen more often in children, you have flexible, growing bones.
  • Sprain: while this is not a fracture, it is still a serious injury. A sprain happens when the ligaments and/or muscles around a bone have stretched/torn, leaving the bone fragile and more likely to break. This condition can still be very painful, and requires medical consultation to decide how best to repair the tissue damage.
  • Stress Fracture: often caused by overuse, like sports or manual labor, where the tendons and ligaments can no longer absorb impact for the bone, and hairline (small cracks) begin to form in the bone.
  • Transverse Fracture: this is a break which occurs at a right angle, on the axis of the bone.

How do I know if I have a bone fracture?

It is easy to say that feeling pain in an arm or a leg can be indicative of a closed fracture, but sometimes, you might have only pulled a muscle. Here are some common signs of bone fractures that go into a little more detail than simply asking yourself if it hurts:

  • Deformity in the bone or limb
  • Severe pain, often throbbing
  • Tenderness around the area
  • Unable to move it without feeling pain
  • Unable to put weight on it or use the limb in question
  • Unusual position, or turning of the arm or leg that is broken

It is important to remember that sometimes, babies and toddlers can break their arms or legs too, but it can be harder to notice. When you have a little one who is still learning how to speak, look out for unexplained crying and sensitive areas. Your baby might cry more or try to flinch away if you move to touch its arm, and that could be sign of an injury.

Luckily, if you find that you or your loved one has a fractured bone, The Colony ER Hospital is ready to treat you—we are open 24/7, even on holidays. We are right off the Sam Rayburn Tollway, and we have state-of-the-art resources ready to help make sure all your fractures and sprains are treated with concierge-level care.

Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.