A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone and it is said to occur when a physical force stronger than the bone is applied to it. Resulting in injury to the bone, a fracture ranges between minor cracks to shattering of the bone.
Fractures are said to occur due to the following:
- Trauma due to a bad fall, road accidents and contact sports like football and rugby
- Medical conditions such as osteoporosis, bone cancer and low calcium levels
- Extremes of age; the bones become more brittle as people age and adults are more likely to suffer fractures from falls than younger children.
The severity of a fracture depends upon its location, as well as the extent of damage done to the bone and surrounding tissues.
There are easy signs and symptoms for detecting fractures. You can suspect a fracture if a person complains of pain, swelling and even bruising of the skin around an affected bone or displays inability to lift or move the affected limb. Other signs include deformity such as the limb laying at an abnormal angle, shortening of one limb with respect to the other, the presence of a wound on the skin below which the broken edge of a bone can be seen.
Not all fractures result in pain immediately after they occur; in some cases, the pain may start hours after the injury. However, it has been noted that certain complications may arise if the fractures are not treated promptly. These possible complications include:
- Damage to the surrounding blood vessels or nerves
- Infection of the affected bone and the surrounding tissues
- Mal-union – occurring when the fracture heals in an abnormal position
- Non-union – occurring when the fracture does not heal as expected
- Other medical complications such as fat embolism, death of the bone, etc
The time taken for fractures to heal depends on the age (children tend to heal faster), the health status of the injured person and the type of fracture.
Factors That Will Aid the Prevention of Fractures
1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D.
2. Mild exercise is good for the muscles and bones.
3. Prevent falls by maintaining a clean, safe environment at home and in the office.
First Aid for Fractures
If a person is suspected to have a fracture, be sure to follow the first aid steps below:
1. Immobilize the injured area, i.e. try to limit movement around the injured bone as much as possible by applying a splint or by providing support for it.
2. With an open fracture, cover the exposed bone with a sterile dressing to reduce the risk of infection.
3. Call the emergency number in your location and get the person to the nearest hospital.