The term fracture is usually used in referring to a break occurring in a bone in the body. In most instances, these fractures occur due to a force exerted on the bone which exceeds its tolerable stress level.
At times, certain individuals are more vulnerable than others in developing a fracture. Small children are thus more vulnerable due to immature bone consistency. The elderly are also more vulnerable due to reduced bone density due to various hormonal and nutritional deficiencies. Apart from these factors, certain pathological events such as cancers can also make a person more vulnerable in being susceptible to bone fractures.
There are several classifications available in describing a fracture in the human body. Therefore, it will be easier to make use of several classifications in detailing the fracture. Thus, we can make use of the following broad classification.
1. Complete fracture
Complete fracture refers to complete severance or breakage of the two or more segments of the bone. Thus, most often if there are only two segments, the two parts will most often be referred to as the distal and the proximal fragments.
2. Incomplete fracture
Incomplete fracture describes fractures which do not crack all the way through. The segments will be held together by the remaining bone tissues.
3. Compound fracture
In compound fractures, the fractured bone will penetrate the skin and gives rise to an open wound. The fracture will also be known as an ‘open fracture’.
4. Simple fracture
These fractures are also known as ‘closed fractures’ and will not have a wound caused due to the fracturing bone.
When considering the simple fractures, it is possible to classify different fracture types according to its appearance.
1. Transverse fractures: The fracture occurs at right angles to the long axis of the bone and in most instances the fracture will be complete.
2. Oblique fracture: In this type, the fracture line will extend in a single plane but at a angle to the long axis of the bone.
3. Spiral fracture: although similar to the oblique fracture, spiral fracture defers in that the fracture can extend over two planes rather than one.
4. Comminuted fracture: In this instance, the fracture will result in several pieces or segments of bone rather than two clear cut bone fragments.
Apart from the above classifications, if the bone has maintained its alignment even after the fracture, it will be known as an ‘un-displaced fracture’ and if the alignments are disrupted and the fragments move away from its original position, it will be known as a ‘displaced fracture’.