Broken Bones

Fractures are commonly referred to as broken bones. There are many types of fractures, but the main categories are displaced, non-displaced, open and closed. Displaced and non-displaced fractures refer to the way the bone breaks. In a displaced fracture, the bone snaps into two or more parts and moves so that the two ends are not lined up straight. If the bone is in many pieces, it is called a comminuted fracture. In a non-displaced fracture, the bone cracks either part or all of the way through, but does not move and maintains its proper alignment.

A closed fracture is when the bone breaks but there is no puncture or open wound in the skin. An open fracture is one in which the bone breaks through the skin; it may then recede back into the wound and not be visible through the skin.

Stress To Acute Fractures

By Mike Haskew

Prevalence

According to an orthopaedic study published by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, at least 300,000 fractures related to sports participation occur each year in the United States. Fractures are inevitable in sporting activities, particularly those that involve collisions, speed, thrown or batted balls, jumping or vaulting, and stationary equipment.

Stress and Acute Fractures

Sports related fractures are generally classified as either stress or acute fractures. A stress fracture is a partial fracture (nondisplaced) in a bone that is caused by repetitive loading over time. Stress fractures account for about 10 percent of all sports injuries and typically occur with repetition. Stress fractures occur routinely in the spine, the legs, feet, toes, and the pelvis. They are most often attributed to participation in ballet, track and field, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and softball. Up to 50 percent of all stress fractures occur in the tibia or fibula (two bones of the lower leg).

Acute fractures often result from the direct overloading of the bone with pressure from a blow. The most common injuries include fractured wrists, hands, collarbones and bones in the ankle and feet. Participants in sports such as downhill or cross country skiing, weight lifting, baseball, softball and soccer frequently suffer from acute fractures. Such injuries range from simple breaks (nondisplaced or closed fractures) to compound (open) fractures.

Treatment

Treatment for stress fractures is directly related to severity and includes the spectrum from immobilization and rest to surgery. Acute fractures regularly require immobilization with some type of splint or cast, and depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be required to completely heal the break. Depending on the degree of dislocation of the broken bone and the detachment of connective tissues, a surgeon may set the bone, securing it with pins or screws to facilitate healing, and reattach other tissue.

The prevention of broken bones is most effectively accomplished by wearing the proper protective gear, having an awareness of risky or dangerous activities, maintaining a proper diet to promote the health of the skeletal system, and refraining from overuse and extreme training regimens that can create stress and fatigue in the bone itself.

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