There are more than 200 bones in the adult human body. So, it stands to reason that at some point in our lives, we may break a bone.
Even though our bones are very strong and are the hardest tissues in our body, they can break when too much pressure or force is applied on them. A broken bone is often referred to as a fracture.
All broken bones are not created equal – in fact, there are many types of fractures. They can range from a tiny hairline crack to a broken bone that has been shattered into several pieces.
What Causes a Broken Bone?
The most common causes of fractures are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and blunt-force injuries. Sports-related injuries are a major cause of fractures, especially sports that involve frequent impact or repetitive forces, such as running.
High-impact contact sports like football or boxing, and sports that involve high speeds and balance such as skiing or skateboarding, can also cause fractures. Broken bones can also result from physical violence, such as a blow from a kick, a punch, or a weapon.
Although not as common, fractures can be caused by diseases such as osteoporosis – a condition that causes more bone calcium to be absorbed than is replaced – which results in a reduction in bone density. This causes bones to be fragile and susceptible to fractures.
Another cause of fractures can be bone tumors, which can weaken bones and make them vulnerable. Most bone tumors originate in another part of the body and then spread (metastasize) to the bone.
How Do I Know if a Bone Is Broken?
Common symptoms of a broken bone include:
· Severe pain
· Popping sound at the time of injury
· Deformed, crooked, or lumpy bone shape
· Nausea and vomiting (due to the pain)
In fact, if a bone is fractured, the pain is usually so severe that it is almost unbearable to put any weight or pressure on it.
If you think you may have broken a bone, seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, your fracture could heal incorrectly, causing future problems and even disability.
Treatment Options for a Bone Fracture
If your doctor suspects you have a broken bone, the physician will order an X-ray to identify the type and location of your fracture. Some fractures, like stress fractures (sometimes called a hairline fracture), may not appear on an X-ray; in those cases, a CT scan or an MRI may be used to get a better look at the bones.
The good news is that a fractured bone can grow back together again. If your X-rays reveal a simple fracture, it can usually be treated with a splint or a cast, which sets the bone in place and stabilizes it so that it can heal properly.
If your doctor determines that you have a more complicated fracture, you may need surgical intervention to ensure that the bones are aligned so that it heals properly. These more serious fractures often require surgical repositioning using pins, screws, rods, and plates to hold the bone fragments in position so that it can heal correctly.
Recovery from a Fractured Bone
Your pain will probably be gone long before your fracture has healed. You can expect to have to limit your activity while your bone is healing.
Because of the immobility during your treatment, your doctor may order physical or occupational therapy after casting or surgery in order to help you regain strength, flexibility, and movement. This also helps to maintain the integrity of the muscles so they don’t atrophy too much while your bone heals.
Recovery time is different for everyone and depends on the type of fracture and the type of treatment you had. In general, fractures take as little as six weeks to heal, while more complicated fractures can take several months to heal.
After treatment, most patients are able to resume their regular lifestyle and activity level.
Orthopedic Physicians in West Jersey
If you suspect that you’ve broken a bone, you should visit an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible. The skilled physicians at Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey are here to help you get back on the road to wellness.
Call us today at (973) 989-0888 or fill out our appointment request form to schedule a consultation. Our office is fluent in English, Spanish, and French for your convenience. We look forward to taking care of your orthopedic issues so you can get back to enjoying your lifestyle.