In radiology, one of the most common uses of an x-ray is to identify broken bones. It may be a patient's first interaction with a radiologist too, since breaking a bone (especially as a child) is very common. What most people don't understand is that there are various types of bone fractures. So we are providing you with a crash course on the different types of bone fractures.
The severity of a fracture generally depends on the force that was applied to the bone to break it, so it could technically range anywhere from a slight crack to a complete shatter. Common types of fractures include:
These fractures are the ideal fractures (if there ever was such a thing). It happens when the broken ends of the bone are pretty much in line and barely out of place.
Some bones even break so dramatically that it becomes an "open" fracture, (*warning to squeamish individuals*) meaning it breaks through the skin. These fractures are susceptible to a whole other set of complications since infection can affect the open wound and bone.
These fractures are characterized by horizontal fracture lines but are still a simple, clean break.
Oblique Pattern Fracture
These are typically bones that are broken in an angled pattern.
These fractures happen when bones are shattered into three or more pieces--definitely not a clean break nor easy to fix.
It's pretty easy to identify a broken bone, so if something doesn't feel right or you're in a lot of pain, make sure you follow up with a doctor examination. X-rays will help your doctor verify the diagnosis, so don't be nervous if they suggest you have one done.
Once your doctor is sure it's a broken bone, he or she will treat it differently depending on the type of fracture it is. It could be treated with a common cast, brace, or internal/external fixation. Basically, the bone will just need to be stabilized and immobilized to heal. It usually takes several weeks or months for the bone to heal, but the pain usually goes away much sooner.