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Types and Classifications of Long Bone Fractures

Fractures, commonly called broken bones, are the result of an abnormal disruption of the continuity or integrity of the bones. These occur due to a trauma from a motor accident, sports injury, assault or fall.

Aside from the 4 most common fractures we discussed in our other article, urgent care medical professionals also deal with various cases of long bone fractures. The incidence rate of these is actually quite high.

In the U.S. alone, 21 long bone fractures per 1000 people happen annually and they’re more common among men than women between the ages 16 to 50. Among the seniors, long bone fractures are more common in women than men due to bone diseases like osteoporosis.

As more and more ladies play professional sports, the number of sports-related long bone fractures among women younger than 65 also increases.

Anatomy and Types of Long Bones

There are six types of long bone structures in the body:

  • The humerus is the long bone structure found in the upper arm.
  • The radius, or the radial bone, is found in the forearm.
  • The ulna is the bone found next to the radius of the forearm.
  • The femur, or thigh bone, is the lone largest bone of the upper legs.
  • The tibia, or shin bone, is one of two long bone structures of the lower leg.
  • The fibula, or calf bone, is found next to the shin bone.

The humerus, radius, femur, and tibia have thick and hollow tubes that support body weight and absorb force. Among them, the most susceptible to fracture is the tibia.

Long bone fractures can extend to the joint, depending on the mechanism of injury. The break can occur in any of the following areas:

  • The epiphysis – the end of the long bones
  • The diaphysis – the middle of the long bones, which is commonly known as the shaft
  • The metaphysis – the small portion between the epiphysis and diaphysis

The epiphysis has extra-hard cartilage and cortical bone. The diaphysis or shaft has a hard shell filled with soft but sponge-like tissues and a yellow marrow that nurses a person’s stem cells. The metaphysis absorbs and helps transfer the weight or load to the shaft.

Types of Long Bone Fractures

Our doctors usually classify long bone fractures depending on the site, direction, and characteristics of the break. It might be extra-articular,existing solely on the long bone area, or  intra-articular, where the damage extends to the joints.

The breakage can be oblique (angulated), spiral (rotated), or transverse (simple). It might also be a close or open fracture – bone is sticking out of the skin.

The fracture might also be:

  • Linear – have no bone displacement

  • Stellate – with clear bone displacement

  • Comminuted – where the bones are crushed into pieces

If you suspect a long bone fracture, administer the first aid treatments that we have discussed in this article and bring the patient immediately to the nearest Urgent Care facility near you.

Diagnosis of Long Bone Fractures

When a patient is seeking urgent care for a possible long bone fracture, the medical professional will want to learn more about the patient’s medical history and the circumstances leading to the complaint or injury. They will also check for symptoms such as the following:

  • Open wounds
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Misalignment
  • Pain during movement
  • Inability to move the affected joint or limb

However, while the presence of these symptoms suggests a fracture, an X-ray examination will help doctors arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

Causes of Long Bone Fractures

The most common reason why an otherwise healthy bone would break is blunt force trauma due to an accident such as a vehicular accident or a bad fall. As you might expect, someone with weakened bones as a result of an underlying condition is more susceptible to fractures.

A bone injury caused by an underlying problem is referred to as a pathologic fracture. Genetic bone disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cancer are the most common causes behind pathologic bone fractures. 

Where Does a Long Bone Usually Break?

As mentioned above, the body has six sets of long bones. While every bone in the body can break or be fractured, the tibia or shin bone is most susceptible to injury and fracture. This is most likely because of their prominent position. 

How Do You Fix a Broken Bone?

There are three main treatment options for fixing a broken bone. The physician who will provide the patient may recommend or require any of these after a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition. 

  • Orthopedic casting

In this procedure, the affected limb or body part is encased in a cast, which is basically a shell made from fiberglass or plaster. The cast holds and keeps the anatomical structures stable until the broken bone heals.

  • Open reduction with internal fixation

This involves a surgery to fix the broken bone, then internal fixation devices such as metal rods, plates, or screws are used to keep the bone and its parts in place. Internal fixation devices are placed under the skin. This procedure is recommended for fractures where the use of a cast is not viable.

  • Open reduction with external fixation

This involves a surgery to fix the broken bone, then external fixation devices are used to support and hold the bone in the correct position while it heals. External fixation devices are placed outside the skin. This procedure is recommended for fractures where the use of a cast and open reduction with internal fixation are not viable.

How Long Does a Fractured Bone Take to Heal?

Most fractures heal within six to eight weeks. However, healing duration greatly varies from patient to patient and from bone to bone. The complexity of the injury also matters. In general, hand and wrist fractures may heal faster, within four to six weeks. Meanwhile, a tibia fracture may take 20 weeks or longer to heal.

Broken bone? Visit our Urgent Care Of The Palm Beaches to get the best treatment you need.

Most fractures require emergency treatment. Regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the fracture or injury, patients should not delay consultation and treatment. 

The sooner you see a doctor after an accident such as a fall, the better. Accurate and prompt diagnosis and treatment are the keys to restoring alignment, movement, and health of a broken bone.

Furthermore, a fracture needs immediate medical treatment to prevent complications that might further delay the healing process, such as severe blood loss and infection. 

We will perform a thorough physical assessment and X-ray procedure to assess you properly at our Urgent Care Clinics:

Our medical staff will provide the best treatment and facilitate your healing process. For your convenience, we are open seven days a week, with no appointment necessary! 

Visit our website for more information about the medical services we provide, including COVID-19 testing and telehealth urgent care in Florida.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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