A fracture is a serious condition that requires immediate yet proper management to prevent further complications and to promote proper healing. Fractures are technically broken bones though fragments don’t have to actually be present.
What Causes Fractures?
excessive force or pressure on the bone structure. This can happen in falls or during accidents.
In some patients who have problems with their calcium or Vitamin D reserves, bone demineralization or the slow bone structure breakdown occurs leaving them vulnerable to fractures even without contributing outside force.
Types of Fractures
There are several different types of fractures with varied levels of severity. Closed fractures, as the name implies, are fractures wherein the broken bones and fragments remain under the skin. Stress fractures are a form of closed fractures with hairline cracks noted on usually intact bones that could be caused by repeated stress. Open fractures on the other hand are a bit more dangerous because the broken bones break out of the skin that can be portals for infections. Complicated fractures, open or not, are even more serious because they occur near vital organs. And in younger children, green stick fractures occur when their naturally soft bones are bent unnaturally.
Signs and symptoms
- Severe pain
- Limited range of motion or difficulty moving the entire limb
- Swelling or bruising
- Tenderness when touched
- In some cases, abnormal limb positioning or angling
Fracture First Aid
Priorities in immediate management of fractures include assessment of extent of the injury, immobilizing the limb and preventing further damage and complications. And because fractured limbs are characteristically extremely painful and difficult to move, action in delivering first aid should be decisive and purposeful to avoid unnecessary motion.
- Assess the broken limb for further injuries. Don’t move the person unless absolutely necessary to avoid further injury. If the limb needs to be moved, take care to lift the limb entirely without disrupting its position. Extra hands are definitely recommended.
- Avoid changing the position of the broken limb and don’t even think of resetting odd angles yourself. Rather, use sturdy materials such as rolled magazines or newspapers to form makeshift splints if possible.
- Use ice or cold water bags on the limb to relieve pain and help reduce the swelling until help arrives.
- If the fracture is an open one, take time to wash the wounds and dress them to avoid infection. If there is bleeding, stem it by applying pressure on the wound with sterile bandage or clean cloth.
- Immediately call for help.
- Keep the patient company at all times. Don’t give him any food or drink for the time being to avoid asphyxiation.
Managing fractures include setting and re-aligning bones surgically to properly position them for optimal healing. For most fractures, closed reduction surgical procedures are usually done to achieve this. The affected limb is then put in a cast to avoid jarring the healing bones out of alignment. Another way to promote proper healing of bones is via traction which is often used when casting is not adequate to heal the fracture. Aside from these surgical interventions, pain and anti-inflammatory medications and possibly prophylaxis antibiotics to prevent infection may also be considered as part of pharmacologic management.