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X-ray of bone fracture

The ABCs of Fractures: What You Need to Know

Have you heard of a buckle fracture? A transverse fracture? How about a greenstick fracture? Sometimes you may hear of a person who gets a fracture and it will seem like a small thing with minimal recovery, and other times, a fracture could mean hospital time, complicated surgery and a difficult recovery. What are the differences?

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a broken bone and can be broadly categorized as simple or compound. A simple, or closed fracture, does not penetrate the skin while a compound, or open fracture, pierces the skin and bone can sometimes be seen externally. A simple fracture is usually easier to treat and has fewer complications while a compound fracture, which had opportunity for infection by being exposed, is considered more serious and it requires a more involved treatment.

Why are there so many different types of broken bones?

There are many different types of fractures that describe different ways the bone may have broken. “We use different names for different kinds of fractures to identify them and to categorize common ways to treat the fracture, depending on the angle and type of break,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Ron Bryce.

What are the different types of fractures?

There are many different classifications of fractures. Let’s look at six of the more common ones:

  • Avulsion fracture is when a small piece of bone is torn off of the rest of the bone from a hard pull or separation such as during an accident or sports injury.
  • Buckle fracture is when the bone has a bulge from the two ends being driven into each other. This is common in a FOOSH (Falling On Out-Stretched Hand) injury.
  • Comminuted fracture means the bone has broken into many pieces.
  • Greenstick fracture is when a bone bends and breaks on one side but not all the way through. This is common in children whose bones are more flexible.
  • Stress fracture is often caused by overuse, such as in sports, where the tendons and ligaments can no longer absorb the impact and the bone receives a hairline fracture.
  • Transverse fracture is a break that occurs at a right angle to the axis of the bone.

What are the symptoms of a fracture?

If a bone has been injured or broken, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Unable to move it without pain
  • Severe pain or throbbing pain
  • Unable to put weight on it or use it
  • Stiffness, bruising and swelling around affected area
  • Tenderness
  • Unusual position or turning of the arm or leg
  • Deformity
  • In babies – unexplained crying

What should I do if I suspect a broken bone?

“If you’ve had an injury or if you suspect that a fracture may have occurred, you will want to get medical help right away,” said Dr. Bryce. “Those first few hours are very important. A bone will start to heal and add cartilage and it needs to be taken care of by a physician to make sure it is properly aligned.

“If the thigh bone, or femur, is suspected of being damaged, that can be potentially life-threatening and should be treated immediately at an ER.”

We have the board-certified physicians, the SPECIALIST NOW program for fast access to a specialist, and the necessary imaging equipment to take care of most major and minor fractures.

Meet Dr. Ron Bryce:

Ron Bryce, M.D., is board-certified in family practice. Dr. Bryce received his medical degree from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, Tulsa, OK. He completed his residency at John P. Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, TX.

Experienced with providing both emergency and routine care for patients of all ages, Dr. Bryce believes in keeping the lines of communication open with his patients and in treating them like family.