Fractures

Out of all the conditions that occur in the skeletal system, fractures are the most common injury. A fracture is a split in the bone that opens the bone to its external environment. These fractures all have two general causes: traumatic, a large force impact or stress on the bone, or pathological, a medical condition that debilitates the bone. Each of these fractures has their own unique qualities that set them apart from one another. However, these fractures are generally separated into two types of fractures: simple and compound.

The first kind of fracture is a simple fracture. In this fracture, the bone is cleanly split into two parts and all the fragments of the bone are all within the local area of the fracture and have not left the body. Due to its characteristic of nothing leaving the body, this fracture is also known as the closed fracture. This fracture is much easier to repair in comparison to compound fractures because the bone it usually not completely demolished. More often than not, simple fractures tend to be simply broken yet aligned. Because of this, the bone is able to heal with more ease than if it was unaligned.

Compound fractures, as stated before, is the second category of fractures. The difference between compound and simple fractures is that the bone, when broken, is exposed to the outside environment. Furthermore, not only does the bone leave the local area of the fracture, but it pierces the skin. This type of fracture is usually more serious than simple fractures because the bone itself is usually fractured and more misaligned with the proper anatomical position. Because of this, the fracture is more likely to cause an infection.

Now, onto the specific fractures that occur in the human body. Comminuted fractures have an easily discernable feature; when they occur, the bone is broken into many pieces. This is one of the most devastating types of bone fractures as the bones have almost no way of healing naturally, simple or compound. Comminuted fractures are very difficult to cope with as the blunt, unfocused pressure that it applied to them usually causes the pieces of the bone to be shifted around. If one it not careful, this fracture could cause lacerations inside the body due to the somewhat sharp edges of the bone.

Avulsion fractures are unique in that while a pushing force is applied to practically every other fracture, a pulling force is used instead to create it. In this type of fracture, the bone has been pulled apart into two different directions, causing two parts to be made. While I may say that the bone is pulled apart, it usually does not occur near the middle of the bone as bones are structured to support vertical strain. Instead, avulsion fractures are created near the ends of bones, where they link to other bones. This is because bones can pull on each other if in the wrong scenario, and if that extremity of that bone is weak, it will be pulled off.

Transverse fractures are even horizontal breaks in the bone. This is one of the easiest fractures to see as the bone merely splits into two parts laterally, without much debris or bone fragments floating around it. The transverse fracture is usually caused by a focused blow made the bone with an extreme amount of strength that causes the split to be somewhat clean. Because it is lateral, it is more likely that the split has not occurred naturally because the bones in the human body are made to support vertical pressure, but lack in protection against damage that takes place laterally.

Oblique fractures are clear diagonal fissures in the bone. One can easily tell an oblique fracture has occurred if there is a steep and sharp angle cutting into and fracturing the bone. This type of fracture is more likely to be caused by stress on the body. This can be seen in the fact that the fracture in the bone is almost vertical, meaning that a vertical pressure was applied to create the fracture. On top of that, oblique fractures can easily become unaligned as there is almost no resistance stopping the two sides of bone from sliding past each other. In fact, one could argue that because of the vertical pressure, the bone parts slid cleanly past one another, leading to their breaking.

Spiral fractures are similar to oblique fractures in appearance. However, they usually are slightly less steep in the angle of their cut because of the way they were broken. In comparison to a blunt impact creating an oblique fracture, spiral fractures are caused by the twisting of the bone. Similar to their name, spiral fractures are formed if the two ends of the bone are spun in two opposite directions.

Greenstick fractures are one of the most unique kinds of fractures. In comparison to the other fractures, which occur mainly in adults, greenstick fractures only occur to kids younger than 10 years old. After all, all other fractures can be defined as a clear break in the bone, be it laterally, diagonally, or vertically. However, a greenstick fracture is a partial break in the bone, which allows the bone to bend over. An easier way to imagine it would be to have the picture of a young plant or tree in your mind. Now imagine that plant breaking. When it breaks, only one side truly splits; the other side is flexible and therefore bends instead of breaking. This is because the bones the greenstick fracture occurs in, which belong to kids younger than 10 years old, are very flexible. Their bones are still growing and developing the proper rigidity needed to support an adult-sized body. The greenstick fracture itself is not very dangerous; however, its true potential lies in the fact that it can develop into a much worse condition if not treated properly.

All in all, the knowledge of fractures is necessary for the orthopedic field. As almost every injury in the orthopedic field is related to fractures, the lacking of knowledge of fractures would not be to my benefit. Furthermore, I am interested in learning about fractures because I had a greenstick fracture when I was 10 years old. Learning about something that so deeply impacted my life so long ago opens my eyes to what really happened eight years ago. This knowledge will not only help me personally but also when studying for medicine in the future.


Taylor, Tim. “Types of Bone Fractures.” InnerBody. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2017.
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