Fractures, also known as broken bones, are common accidents that can happen to anyone. Broken bones occur when the tough and flexible parts of a bone called the compact and spongy bone gets fractured due to too much pressure from an outside source. The exterior hard shell of a bone is filled with blood vessels that bring nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body to help it heal faster.

Broken bones cause pain in varying degrees among people depending on where they have been affected. Fractures may be either closed or open. A closed fracture means that there is no cut in the skin while an open fracture has a break within a particular organ system in the body that creates a puncture in one or more areas such as the mouth or ribs.

There are three different types of fractures that can be categorised based on their modes of injury, namely:

  1. compression fractures
  2. greenstick fractures
  3. transverse fractures.

Compression injuries happen when a bone is pressed down upon by an outside force such as in the case of a bad fall or impact from a car accident.

Greenstick fracture occurs in children between the ages of 6 to 10 where only one side of the bone breaks usually due to a fall while transverse fractures happen when there is a breakage within the main body part causing two separate pieces in the broken area.

All these can result in either simple or compound fractures depending on where they have been affected.

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Signs and symptoms of a fracture

Look for:

  • Deformities, oedema (swelling), and bruising can all be signs of a bone fracture.
  • Pain and/or mobility difficulties associated with the area
  • In terms of the overall appearance, a limb may appear shorter, deformed or bent.
  • Bone fragments that have not yet been pushed into each other might cause a jarring noise or sensation from the end of the injured bones.
  • Inability to move the limb normally and/or discomfort
  • Visually, you can see the bone sticking out of a wound. (known as an open fracture)
  • Signs of shock, especially with a thigh bone fracture, hip or pelvis injury.

First aid for fractures

  1. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing or a clean, non-fluffy cloth if it is an open fracture. Apply pressure around the injury rather than over the protruding bone to minimise bleeding. Then apply a bandage to secure the dressing.
  2. While you hold the injured area still, advise the victim to remain still so that it does not move. This may be done by supporting the joint above and below the wounded area.
  3. Place extra cushioning surrounding the injury for further support.
  4. Once you’ve done this, call 999 or 112 for emergency assistance. Unless the injured part is in immediate danger, do not move the wounded person until the fractured portion has been secured with a sling or wide fold bandages. A lower limb fracture may be treated with broad fold bandages and a sling.
  5. Treat for shock if required, but do not raise the legs if either is damaged or there is damage to the pelvis or hip. Monitor until help arrives.

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