Fractures, Sprains, and Strains - Description

Fractures usually result from a strong force applied to a bone. The bone and the tissue surrounding it may break apart completely, or they may be dislocated (pushed out of position).

Fractures are classified as being simple or compound. A simple fracture is one in which the skin is not broken. The area may be bruised and swollen, but it is not possible to tell simply by looking that a bone is broken. A simple fracture is also called a closed fracture. A compound fracture is one in which the skin is broken. The broken bone is actually visible to the eye. There may be damage to tissue surrounding the bone. Infection is a common complication of a compound fracture.

Fractures are also classified as complete or incomplete. A complete fracture is one in which the bone is broken all the way through. In an incomplete fracture, the break goes only part way through the bone. An incomplete fracture is also known as a greenstick fracture.

Bone breaks can also be classified as single or multiple. These terms describe the number of places in which a bone is broken. A single fracture is one in which the bone is broken in only one place. In a multiple fracture, a bone is broken in more than one place.

Fractures can also be described by other sets of terms. For example, they may be classified according to the direction of the break. A linear fracture runs in the same direction as the length of the bone. A transverse fracture is one that cuts across the width of the bone.

Sprains and Strains

Bones are connected to each other in joints by ligaments. When excessive force is applied to a joint, ligaments may be torn or damaged. This type of injury is a sprain. The seriousness of a sprain depends on how badly ligaments are damaged. Sprains can occur in any joint, but they occur most commonly in the ankle, knee, and finger.

Sprains are often classified as being in one of three categories. A grade I sprain is a mild injury. The ligament is not actually torn. The joint continues to function normally. There may be some swelling and tenderness.

Tough, fiber-like tissue that holds bones together at joints.
A condition in which bones lose protein and minerals, causing them to become weak and subject to fracture.
The restoration of a body part to its original position after it has been displaced, such as during a fracture.
A condition caused by the deficiency of certain minerals, including vitamin D and calcium, causing abnormal bone growth.
The process of placing a bone, arm or leg, or group of muscles under tension by applying weights to them, in order to keep them in alignment while they heal.

A grade II sprain involves a partial tear in a ligament. There is obvious swelling, extensive bruising, pain, and reduced function in the joint.

A grade III sprain occurs when a ligament is completely torn. Pain becomes severe, and use of the joint is lost. These symptoms are somewhat similar to those of a bone fracture.

Strains are tears in muscle tissue. Strains are sometimes called pulled muscles. They usually occur when a person forces a muscle to work too hard. They are often caused by using incorrect lifting techniques.

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