A comminuted fracture occurs when a bone has bee shattered, splintered or crushed into more than two pieces.
A bone fracture (sometimes abbreviated FRX or Fx, Fx, or #) is a medical condition in which there is a break in the continuity of the bone. A bone fracture can be the result of high force impact or stress, or a minimal trauma injury as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, bone cancer, or osteogenesis imperfecta, where the fracture is then properly termed a pathologic fracture.
Other kinds of fractures are:
- Simple fractures, also called closed fractures, are broken bones that remain within the body and do not penetrate the skin.
- Compound fractures, also called open fractures, are broken bones that penetrate through the skin and expose the bone and deep tissues to the exterior environment.
Causes of bone fractures
Causes of bone fractures can include:
- Traumatic incidents such as sporting injuries, vehicle accidents and falls
- Conditions such as osteoporosis and some types of cancer that cause bones to fracture more easily, meaning even minor trauma and falls can become serious.
Symptoms of bone fractures
Fractures are different from other injuries to the skeleton such as dislocations, although in some cases it can be hard to tell them apart. Sometimes, a person may have more than one type of injury. If in doubt, treat the injury as if it is a fracture.
The symptoms of a fracture depend on the particular bone and the severity of the injury, but may include:
- Inability to use the limb.
First aid for bone fractures
Good first-aid care of fractures is always important. Moving the broken bones can increase pain and bleeding and can damage tissues around the injury. This can lead to complications in the repair and healing of the injury later on.
First aid for fractures is all about immobilising (limiting movement of) the injured area. Splints can be used for this. Control any external bleeding. Complicated breaks where a limb is very deformed may need to be realigned before splinting – only paramedics or medical staff should do this.
Fractures of the head or body such as skull, ribs and pelvis are all serious and should be managed by paramedics.
If you suspect a bone fracture, you should:
- Keep the person still – do not move them unless there is an immediate danger, especially if you suspect fracture of the skull, spine, ribs, pelvis or upper leg
- Attend to any bleeding wounds first. Stop the bleeding by pressing firmly on the site with a clean dressing. If a bone is protruding, apply pressure around the edges of the wound
- If bleeding is controlled, keep the wound covered with a clean dressing
- Never try to straighten broken bones
- For a limb fracture, provide support and comfort such as a pillow under the lower leg or forearm. However, do not cause further pain or unnecessary movement of the broken bone
- Apply a splint to support the limb. Splints do not have to be professionally manufactured. Items like wooden boards and folded magazines can work for some fractures. You should immobilise the limb above and below the fracture
- Use a sling to support an arm or collarbone fracture
- Raise the fractured area if possible and apply a cold pack to reduce swelling and pain
- Stop the person from eating or drinking anything until they are seen by a doctor, in case they will need surgery
- In an emergency, call for an ambulance.