Fractures Q & A
What symptoms are associated with fractures?
A fracture can cause different symptoms depending on the type of fracture and its location. Most fractures are associated with:
- pain occurring immediately after an injury
- tenderness and swelling over the site of the fracture
- pain when bearing weight on the fractured bone or joint or when moving the bone or joint
- a hard, tender lump over the fracture
- weakness or reduced range of motion in the limb or joint
A fracture in a joint can also cause the joint to assume an unusual shape or angle. Very severe fractures can cause the end of the bone to protrude through the skin (compound fractures), exposing the bone and surrounding tissues to contamination and infection. Most fractures occur as a result of a high-impact injury, but people with osteoporosis may develop fractures as a result of even simple movements.
What is a stress fracture?
Stress fractures are breaks in bones that form as a result of repetitive impacts like running or from osteoporosis or other diseases that cause the bones to become weak and more prone to fractures. Patients with stress fractures often can be treated with casting or orthopedic “boots” to support the area so it can heal.
What is a compression fracture?
A compression fracture is a break in one of the spine bones (vertebrae) that most commonly occurs as a result of osteoporosis.
How are fractures treated?
Fracture treatment requires a thorough evaluation of the break, including diagnostic imaging to determine the best approach to treatment. Bones heal or “knit together” naturally, so the first step in fracture treatment is to ensure the ends of the bones are properly aligned. Some fractures occur “in situ” with bone ends remaining in place. Others may cause the ends of the bones to become displaced and surgery or manual “reduction” may be required to restore the bones to their normal positions. Some fractures can be treated with casting while fractures that are severe or have multiple pieces will need surgical treatment to restore the area so it can heal properly.