Yes, a broken bone is a broken bone, but there are actually lots of different ways a bone can break. It can partially or completely break, and it can also come in the form of a compound or stress fracture.
Stress fractures, although they are not the most serious type of fracture, can result in something more serious if they aren’t treated correctly. Read on to learn more from our AFC Urgent Care Cleveland team!
What Exactly Is a Fracture?
A fracture is when a bone breaks. It’s almost always caused by some sort of physical trauma, like a car accident or sports injury, and it can come in many different forms.
In fact, there are at least 14 ways a bone can be fractured. For your sake, though, we’ve listed the most common types of fractures below.
Common Types of Fractures
- Closed or open fractures: If the injury doesn’t open the skin, it’s called a closed fracture. If the skin does open, it’s called an open fracture or, perhaps more commonly, a compound fracture.
- Complete fractures: The break goes completely through the bone, separating it in two.
- Partial fractures: The break doesn’t go all the way through the bone.
- Stress (hairline) fractures: The bone gets a crack in it, which is sometimes tough to find with imaging.
How Serious Are Small Fractures?
Hairline and stress fractures are among the smallest types of fractures, and they usually aren’t as serious at first. They’re common among athletes and people who engaged in high-impact activities on a regular basis. The more impact a bone consistently withstands, the higher of a chance there is that the bone will fracture.
If a hairline or stress fracture occurs, it will need to be treated correctly and quickly to avoid a complete fracture. Complete fractures are much more serious and are more complicated to treat. If you aren’t sure if you have a fracture or not, visit our AFC center to get an X-ray, which is one of the most common ways fractures are diagnosed.
Tests that Diagnose Fractures
- X-rays: This is the most common way to diagnose a fracture, as this tool produces a two-dimensional picture of the break.
- Bone scan: This type of test is used to find fractures that don’t show up on an X-ray. This scan takes longer—usually two visits four hours apart—but it can help find some fractures.
- CT scan: A CT scan uses computers and X-rays to create detailed slices or cross-sections of the bone.
- MRI: This type of test is most often used to diagnose muscle and tissue-related injuries, but it can also diagnose a stress fracture.
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