Fracture Vs. Break: How Are They Identified and Treated?

doctor examining ankle in a cast

And How to Contact the Best Orthopedic and Shoulder Surgeons in Wichita

Although bone injuries are quite common, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily easy to deal with. Fractures and breaks typically occur when the bone is impacted by a force that is stronger than the bone. The most common fracture or break scenarios include sports injuries, falls, and motor vehicle accidents.

Naturally, this begs the question: What exactly is the difference between a fracture and a break?

Medically speaking, the two terms refer to the same type of injury, so they are used interchangeably. However, some use the term “break” to indicate that the bone in question has broken into two separate parts. Additionally, the term “fracture” is often used to describe a bone that is cracked, but remains in one piece.

What Are the Different Types of Bone Fractures?

A bone fracture is classified as either closed or open. A closed fracture indicates that the bone is broken, but the soft tissue surrounding it remains intact. By comparison, an open fracture means that the bone is broken, and it’s pierced through the surrounding soft tissue.

From there, fractures are broken down into different types to describe their main characteristics and severity. The main types of fractures include:

  • Comminuted fracture: The bone is broken in at least three places, and there are bone fragments sitting adjacent to the breaks.
  • Compression fracture: The bone is crushed, either due to bone weakness or outside pressure.
  • Greenstick fracture: A less severe break that does not cause the bone to separate, but rather bend and crack.
  • Oblique fracture: The bone has a diagonal break.
  • Segmental fracture: The bone is broken in two places, leaving one segment separated and floating in the middle.
  • Spiral fracture: Most common in a twisting injury, the bone has a break that spirals around the bone.
  • Transverse fracture: The bone break goes straight across the bone.

How Is a Break or Fracture Identified and Treated?

Most people know they’ve experienced a fracture or break because it usually involves blunt-force trauma followed by extreme pain. For instance, if a person were to be involved in a car accident in which their shoulder took the majority of the impact, they would experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense shoulder pain
  • Reduced or complete lack of shoulder mobility
  • Deformity of the area or protruding bone
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Bleeding, bruising, and/or swelling of the area

Naturally, an injured shoulder requires shoulder pain treatment. However, before arriving at the treatment phase, a proper diagnosis by an orthopedic doctor is necessary to determine the severity of the injury.

For fractured or broken bones, orthopedic doctors take X-rays because they are ideal for examining and diagnosing bone injuries. It’s possible that your orthopedic doctor may order an MRI to evaluate any potential ligament or tendon injuries. MRIs are most frequently used for soft tissue evaluation.

Once your orthopedic doctor has thoroughly evaluated the fracture/break, they will then develop a fracture care treatment plan that is specifically designed for you. Each fracture or break is unique, so the treatment process will take all the individual variables of your injury into account.

Fracture Care Treatment Performed at Mid-America Orthopedics

Many instances of fractured or broken bones wind up being addressed by emergency room medical staff due to the sudden nature and severity of the injury. However, it’s important to know what your options are in the event of this type of injury – especially after the emergency is over.

Mid-America Orthopedics has a full staff of orthopedic doctors and surgeons who have decades of combined experience evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a wide array of breaks/fractures. With the resources and advanced medical equipment we have at our practice, we are equipped to provide on-site casting and on-site splints.

Additionally, we have a full team of orthopedic surgeons that specialize in different areas of the anatomy. A severe shoulder break, for instance, would be addressed by one of our orthopedic shoulder surgeons. Our team would also assist you with shoulder pain treatment and ongoing physical therapy as you recover.

How to Get in Touch with an Orthopedic Doctor Near You

Nobody ever plans to have a break or fracture happen to them; however, in the event that you’re put in this situation, it’s best to know what your options are ahead of time. When enduring arm, leg, or shoulder pain due to a break or fracture, your first order of business should be to get in touch with professionals who are experienced in this area.

If you suspect you have a fractured bone, please reach out to Mid-America Orthopedics to schedule an appointment. You can also reach us by phone during normal business hours at (316) 630-9300. For the convenience of our patients, Mid-America Orthopedics is typically able to offer same-day or next-day appointments.