The human body is made up of 206 bones. These bones serve as the body’s main framework and play crucial role in many bodily functions. Skeletal bones are made of cartilages and tissues that continuously grow. While bones are actually very strong and can bear very high axial load, they can get broken or fractured if applied with sudden, direct pressure such as in accidents, contact sports, slip and fall incidents. Bones can also get dislocated or displaced, fully or partially, if the load is applied on a joint area. Surrounding tissues can also suffer injuries such as strains, sprains, and ruptures. The symptoms of fracture and soft tissue injuries tissues may appear the same and are often hard to distinguish. Usually, X-ray is required to determine the type and extent of injury to the bone and surround tissues.
What You Need to Know
Fractures are classified into two: closed (simple) fracture and open (compound) fracture.
- Closed (Simple) Fractures involve broken bones that have not pierced or cut through the skin. Closed fractures are quite difficult to diagnose and often require X-ray to confirm diagnosis.
- Open (Compound) Fractures occur when the bone pierce through the skin, causing an open wound. This type of fracture increases the risk of infection.
Both of these types of fractures can result in injury to the skeletal tissues, vessels and organs around the broken bone. In young children who have not yet fully developed their bones, the bones can break incompletely, a condition also known as greenstick fracture.
Recognizing Broken Bones
- Pain is one of the most common symptoms of fractures but is often inconclusive. It is caused by the severed bone ends that press on nerve endings.
- Deformity of the site of fracture. When compared to the uninjured side, the affected area may appear longer or shorter or twisted depending on the type of fracture.
- Swelling around the affected bone results from damage of soft tissues.
- Tenderness may be felt when the injured body part is touched.
- Shock may occur after some time, particularly if large bones have been broken. This is more common in major fractures. Before shock ensues, the affected area may appear bruised or reddened and the ends of the broken bone can rub each other producing a grating sound called crepitus. This complication can also be caused by loss of blood due to open wounds.
- Loss of feeling or tingling sensations below the affected area can signal broken bone. This is often caused by damage to the nerve endings as well as reduced blood circulation to the area.
First Aid for Fractures
Although there are some general guidelines on how to recognize fracture, victims can have different presenting symptoms. Basically, people who present these symptoms should be treated as if with fractured bones.
In all types of fractures, the general rule is to immobilize the broken bone or joint to prevent further damage to surrounding tissues. First aid courses provide an in-depth lecture and training on how to properly respond in open and closed fractures.