Open and Closed Fractures
Fractures can be classified as open or closed, depending on whether there is a wound. Open fractures are those in which the broken bones puncture the skin and form an ulcer. The exposed bones predispose a person to developing infections like osteomyelitis. In closed fractures, the skin overlying the broken bones is intact.
Displaced and Undisplaced Fractures
Fractures can also be divided into displaced or undisplaced fractures, depending on whether the bone fragments are in correct alignment. Undisplaced fractures are those in which the broken bones have barely moved out of their anatomical positions and are still lined up. In displaced fractures, they are no longer in their correct alignment.
Simple and Comminuted Fractures
Fractures can be stratified as simple or complicated, depending on the number of fragments that are formed after the bone is injured. A comminuted fracture has three or more broken pieces, while a simple one has just two.
Transverse and Oblique Fractures
Fractures can also be classified according to the angle of the fracture. Transverse fractures are those in which the bone breaks in a straight line at a right angle to the bone axis. Oblique fractures are those in which the bone breaks diagonally, while spiral fractures have a curved break.
Pathologic or Stress Fractures
Fractures can also be categorized according to their causes. Stress fractures develop when repetitive movements place excessive forces on the bones and make them break. These types of fracture commonly develop in athletes due to overuse.
Pathologic fractures are those which develop as a result of a disease process in the bone. Cancers of the bone and those which have metastasized from other parts of the body, like the breasts and prostate, are common causes of pathologic fractures. Osteoporosis is another common condition which weaken bones and predisposes them to fracturing.
Pathological fractures generally take longer than other fractures to heal. The age of the person also determines the length of the healing time. For example, simple fractures in children can heal in just a few weeks, while those in an older person can take several months.
However regardless of the cause, all broken bones should be examined and treated by a doctor who will order X-rays to visualize the broken bones and determine the type of fracture sustained.
Written by: Dr Marian Kim
About the Author
Dr Marian Kim is a freelance health writer who has ghost written articles for numerous online publications.