Every year, 6 million people suffer from a broken bone, or fracture. It is by far the most commonly reported orthopedic condition. Most people think of bones as quite unyielding; and while they are rigid, they do “bend” a bit to accommodate us when participating in high-impact activities. However, if we overexert ourselves, a crack in the bone can occur, and in extreme cases of blunt trauma (such as a car accident, or gunshot) they can shatter completely.
Every bone in the body has its limitations, but the most commonly reported fracture is of the clavicle (collarbone) – which accounts for 5% of all breaks. This regal, yet fragile, component connects your shoulder blade to your ribcage. Its vulnerable location combined with its slender shape leaves it exposed for the worst. When one falls with outstretched arms, or simply suffers a blow to their shoulder – it can result in a fracture.
Your doctor will conduct an X-ray to determine that this is indeed the site of injury, but in some rare cases a CT scan can be required for a clearer picture. One thing that will be clear, is the immediate and intense pain that follows. Many patients report hearing a grinding or crackling sound, seeing bruising, and feeling dull constant aching when moving.
Unlike a clavicle, which typically shows very noticeable signs of breakage, other areas are a bit more elusive to diagnose. The arms and ankles (two commonly fractured regions) can exhibit bruising, swelling, and pain due to a variety of infirmities – from sprains to breaks. You may be perplexed at how to tell the difference.
Pain around the soft tissues (tendons or ligaments) is usually an indicator of a sprain, whereas sharp bone pain would coincide with a break. Inability to walk is another tell-tale sign that you’ve broken a bone. Sometimes, it’s about what you hear, not what you see – with silence & “popping” sounds occurring with sprains and a louder “crack” sound with a bone break.
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the ulna, radius, and humerus are among the most susceptible areas in the arm. Breaks in this region are often caused by taking a fall or tumble onto an outstretched arm. Have you noticed many kids walking around wearing casts? As it turns out, forearm fractures make up 40% of all pediatric bone breaks. It’s always important to seek the help of a physician if you notice any fracture symptoms. This is even more important when it comes to children, as their bones heal faster and in some unfortunate cases – incorrectly.
Hip fractures are one of the most common, and serious varieties. Often associated with the elderly population, hip breaks go hand-in-hand with osteoporosis, and can occur as we begin to lose bone density later in life. Equilibrium, poor vision, and medication usage are all factors that affect senior citizens and may result in a fall and consequently, a hip fracture. These debilitating conditions can leave patients immobile, preventing them from living independent lives.
It’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately after experiencing a fracture. The RICE technique (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) is also highly important. While every broken bone doesn’t require the attention of an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, visits to these highly-specialized doctors may result in more favorable long-term results, and fewer impediments later.
If you’ve faced any of these injuries, it may behoove you to visit to an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine practice, such as Tarpon Orthopedics. Since 2008, it’s been their passion to serve others – offering comprehensive care for everything from joint replacement to pain management. If you’re suffering from musculoskeletal discomfort, there’s a solution; call 972-596-1059 for more information, or request an appointment online.