A broken bone is defined medically as a fracture. When a bone receives a force that’s too great, it breaks or fractures. Broken bones typically result from a fall, physical activity, or a car accident. However, other fracture causes include those related to osteoporosis, which is a condition that weakens bones due to low bone density, and fractures from overuse caused by repetitive motion that exhausts the muscles and puts more stress on bones than they can usually take.
Our skeletal system is made up of 206 bones. These bones, along with other parts of the body, provide support and structure to hold us up and protect our vital organs. Bones and are always going through changes under the control of hormones. Due to these factors, bones are vulnerable to a multitude of injuries, such as fractures.
Calcium is the most common mineral in the body, found primarily in your bones and teeth. It is essential for us to have high levels of calcium within our bodies, so that our bones grow healthy and strong. Healthy bones ensure that bone density or bone mass levels are at the appropriate levels, so that our body’s skeleton is properly supported. The body is also constantly using calcium for muscle and nerve functions, as well as to help the heart function. Most calcium is lost due to normal body processes, such as through sweating, and the shedding of hair, fingernails, and skin.
Therefore, if a person’s diet does not include enough calcium to replace what is lost, the body will take from the calcium supply stored in the bones, which leads to loss of bone mass, weakening the bones and the musculoskeletal structure, making people prone to, and at risk for breaking bones, and developing conditions such as osteoporosis. According to research, it is estimated that only 32 percent of adults in the United States receive enough calcium from their diet alone. Getting enough calcium to make your bones strong is very important.
Like glass, bones can break when they take on too much pressure, or due to stress from an injury or condition. A fracture can be anything from a hairline crack in the bone, to a broken bone that shattered into multiple pieces. Broken bones can occur for anyone, but especially for those with osteoporosis and low bone mass, where a simple hit or fall can break a bone. If you have a broken bone, you may experience the following: swelling and tenderness around the injury, bruising, deformity if a limb is out of place or protruding through the skin, and severe pain.
The majority of broken bones heal normally when a doctor stabilizes them with a cast or sling. Blood vessels provide our bones with oxygen and healing properties called growth factors that encourage healing. However, when there is inadequate blood supply due to trauma, where injury damages blood vessels and cuts down the blood supply to our bones, and the blood vessels stop producing new blood cells.
Do not wait to see your orthopedic surgeon to treat your broken bone, as further complications can happen. As a result, bones that do not heal due to loss of oxygen to the blood, are called non-healing fractures or nonunion. This is where the broken bone does not heal properly or realign, and therefore, your orthopedist needs to stabilize your body part with the broken bone and hold them in place, so they can realign and fuse together for proper healing. If surgery is required to reposition bone fragments, the doctor may use metal screws, rods, and plates to accomplish this.
To learn more about bone fractures and what to do when one occurs, call Orthopaedic Associates at (440) 892-1440 to request an appointment.