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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Injuries and Wounds > Bone Fracture
      Category : Health Centers > Bones, Joints, and Muscles

Bone Fracture

Alternate Names : Broken Bone

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A bone fracture is a break in a bone. The surrounding tissues are usually injured as well. Bone fractures are classified as:

  • simple or closed fracture, in which the broken bone does not come through the skin
  • compound or open fracture, in which the bone pierces the skin or the skin is torn or scraped
  • Bone fractures are also classified by the position of the bone fragments, as follows:

  • comminuted, in which the bone breaks into small pieces
  • impacted, in which one bone fragment is forced into another
  • angulated, in which fragments lie at an angle to each other
  • displaced, in which the fragments separate and are deformed
  • nondisplaced, in which the 2 sections of bone keep their normal alignment
  • overriding, in which fragments overlap and the total length of the bone is shortened
  • segmental, in which fractures occur in 2 nearby areas with an isolated central segment
  • avulsed, in which fragments are pulled from their normal positions by muscles or ligaments
  • What are the causes and risks of the injury?

    A bone fracture occurs when the force against a bone is greater than the strength of the bone. Most fractures result from an injury, such as that caused by an automobile accident or a fall. Factors that increase a person's risk of bone fracture include:

  • normal aging, which causes the bones to become more brittle
  • osteoporosis, or excess bone thinning that results from loss of calcium in the bone
  • menopause. During menopause, the ovaries stop making estrogen, which normally protects against bone loss.
  • removal of the ovaries
  • diet low in calcium or vitamin D
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • family history of osteoporosis
  • medications such as corticosteroids, certain medications for seizures, and some medications used for high blood pressure
  • excess alcohol intake
  • smoking
  • hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone
  • hypogonadism, a condition in which the ovaries in women or testes in men do not function normally
  • hyperparathyroidism, a condition in which the parathyroid gland makes too much parathyroid hormone. This hormone can affect calcium levels in the bloodstream and weaken bone further.
  • rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the body attacks its own joint tissue
  • cancers affecting the bone
  • physical abuse, including child abuse, elder abuse, and spousal abuse. Bone fractures are often seen in abused children and adults.


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    Bone Fracture: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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