The Different Kinds of Fractures

About 6.3 million Americans suffer broken bones — also called fractures — each year. Broken bones are some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries among people of all ages, and the average person sustains two during their lifetime.

Your bones are naturally hard, but they can bend slightly to absorb shock in the event of an accident or fall. A fracture occurs when stress bends your bone to its breaking point.

There are many kinds of fractures, and they’re classified based on the severity of the break. But even if you find yourself with a hairline fracture, it should be treated by a specialist to encourage proper healing.

At Upper Extremity Specialists, of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, our team offers comprehensive trauma care for fractures. Kristopher Downing, MD, and Daniel Brereton, DO, diagnose fractures and develop customized treatments to get their patients back on their feet.

Understanding the types of fractures

Some of the most common causes of fractures are sports injuries, car accidents, and common mishaps, such as slips and falls. No matter how your injury occurs, healing starts with a professional medical diagnosis.

If you break a bone, your doctor may use different terms to describe the type and severity of your fracture. A closed fracture is a case where the broken bone doesn’t break through the skin. An open fracture, on the other hand, is a case where the bone does break through the skin.

Here are a few of the most common fractures:

Hairline fractures

Hairline fractures occur when your bone cracks, but the break doesn’t go all the way through your bone. This type of fracture may also be called a partial fracture. 

Even though hairline fractures may be small, they still need professional care, because these fractures can get worse if not treated properly. In fact, stress fractures — or breaks that develop over time with repeated stress — often develop because they were not treated when they were hairline fractures.

Stable fractures

With a stable fracture, your bone breaks into two complete pieces, but the bones stay close together and remain in alignment.

Most stable fractures are closed fractures. This kind of break is typically perpendicular to the bone itself, which is sometimes referred to as a transverse fracture.

Compound fractures

Compound fractures are generally more severe than stable fractures. The bones are displaced from their usual position, and a gap may form in the space between the broken bones. Sometimes, this type of break is called a displaced fracture.

Spiral breaks may occur in compound fractures, and this happens when at least one piece of bone is twisted or when the break spirals around the bone. Depending on the severity of your compound fracture, you may need surgery to repair the break.

Comminuted fractures

Comminuted fractures are diagnosed when your bone shatters into three or more pieces. Comminuted fractures may be open or closed. These types of fractures can be very complex, and they often require surgery to repair. 

If you suffer a fracture, Dr. Downing and Dr. Brereton are here to help. Our team offers comprehensive diagnostic services for fractures to ensure you get the best possible care for your injury.

Severe fractures may require surgery, and most fractures require a period of immobilization or casting. As your body heals, physical therapy can help restore strength and mobility to the injured area.

If you have a broken bone in your shoulder or arm, trust your care to our team at Upper Extremity Specialists. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.

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