A bone fracture can be defined as loss of continuity of the bone. This discontinuation is incomplete (small cracks in the bone) or complete (actual fractures with or without dislocation of bone fragments). Fractures affect people of all ages. They are still more common in elderly individuals in whom the bones are more fragile. Furthermore, elderly people are prone to falls. Hence they end up with a broken bone more than younger people. Increased risk for fractures is also reported in people suffering from certain illnesses that reduce bone density and make them more susceptible to fractures.
Different Types of Bone Fractures
- Open and Close Fractures
All fractures are generally divided into open fractures and closed fractures. In case of open fractures there is a loss of skin's integrity and fragments of the broken bone protrude through the ruptured skin. Close fractures, on the other hand, may also have dislocated fragments, but the skin remains intact and there are no noticeable bony parts sticking out.
- Simple and Multi-fragmentary Fractures
If the affected bone is broken into two pieces, this fracture is classified as simple fractures. If there are multiple bony fragments, the fracture is known as multi-fragmentary. A special type of multi-fragmentary fracture is comminuted fracture.
- Complete/Incomplete Fractures
If all the fragments lose touch with each other, we are talking about complete fracture. Incomplete fracture is characteristic for partially joined fragments.
Other Types of Fractures
Linear fracture is always parallel to the bone's long axis while transverse fracture is at a right angle of the axis of the affected bone. Furthermore, oblique fracture is diagonal to a long axis of the broken bone and spiral fracture occurs due to twisting of the bone.
Compacted fracture is the type of fracture characterized by close relation of bone fragments i.e. they are driven into each other.
Compression fracture affects the vertebral column. It develops when bones are forced against each other. In majority of cases such fracture affects people suffering from advanced osteoporosis and may also occur in people in whom cancer has given metastases to vertebrae. There is one more type of fractures that resembles compression fracture. It is known as impacted fracture and develops due to pressure applied to both ends of the bone. This results in two fragments that jam into each other.
Avulsion fracture is a special type of fracture that occurs as a result of vigorous contraction of a muscle attached to the affected bone. This fracture is frequent among athletes and usually develops if the person does not warm up properly prior training.
Finally, there is stress fracture, a fracture closely associated with overuse injuries. This type of fracture, similar to avulsion fracture, is commonly reported among athletes especially those engaged in running, ballet and basketball.