A fracture is a broken bone. It can range from a thin crack to a complete break. Bone can fracture crosswise, lengthwise, in several places, or into many pieces. Most fractures happen when a bone is impacted by more force or pressure than it can support.
If you suspect you have a fracture, seek medical help immediately.
Most fractures are accompanied by intense pain when the initial injury occurs. It may become worse when you move or touch the injured area. In some cases, you may even pass out from the pain. You may also feel dizzy or chilled from shock.
Other potential symptoms of a fracture include:
If you’re diagnosed with a fracture, the treatment plan will depend on its type and location.
In general, your doctor will try to put the broken bone pieces back into their proper positions and stabilize them as they heal. It’s important to keep pieces of broken bone immobile until they’re mended. During the healing process, new bone will form around the edges of the broken pieces. If they’re properly aligned and stabilized, the new bone will eventually connect the pieces.
Your doctor may use a cast to stabilize your broken bone. Your cast will likely be made from plaster or fiberglass. It will help keep the injured area stabilized and prevent broken bone pieces from moving while they heal.
In rare cases, you may need traction to stabilize the injured area. Traction stretches the muscles and tendons around your bone. Your doctor will administer it using a system of pulleys and weights positioned in a metal frame over your bed. This system will produce a gentle pulling motion that your doctor can use to stabilize the injured area.
If you experience a fracture, its location and severity will help determine how long it takes to heal. Your age and medical history can also affect your recovery process. Certain medical conditions may impair your body’s ability to mend broken bones.
It may take several weeks, or sometimes months, for your fracture to heal. In most cases, the pain will subside before the healing process is complete. You will likely need to restrict movement of the injured area while it mends. You may not be able to participate in some of your normal activities. You may also have to make adjustments to your routine, until you are healed.
Once your fracture is healed, you may be able to return to your normal activities and routine. In some cases, you may need physical therapy. This will help you to regain your normal use of the injured area. Immobilizing part of your body for a long period of time can cause you to lose muscle strength and range of motion. Physical therapy can help you recover more fully.