5 Things You Need to Know About Long Bone Fractures

1. Locating the Long Bones

There are seven spots where you can find long bones in a human body. The humerus bone is the long bone that extends from the shoulder joint down to the elbow. Next, you have the radius and ulna bones, which comprise the forearm. The radius is on the inside of the wrist and connects to the elbow. The ulna is on the other side of the forearm and extends from the little finger to the elbow. The other long bones in the body are thighbone (femur), fingers and toes (phalanges), lower leg (tibia and fibula), hands (metacarpals) and feet (metatarsals).

2. Name That Fracture

Not all fractures are created equal. When you suffer a long bone fracture, you need to determine the type of fracture it is. Simple or closed fractures are ones where the bone does not lacerate the skin and the bone suffers no separation. With an open or compound fracture, the bone does perforate the skin. Then you have traverse fracture, in which the fracture separates the bone at a right angle in respect to the long axis, but there is no skin penetration. The greenstick fracture is when a piece of the bone fractures, causing the long bone to weaken and bend. Finally, there is the communicated fracture, which is essentially the name for a long bone that’s been crushed into three or more fragments.

3. Fracture Diagnosis

Diagnosing a long bone fracture is usually easy because a person will feel intense pain. Otherwise, they will probably hear or feel the long bone fracture. The area around the fracture will be red and swollen. In addition, the long bone limb may suffer a deformity or some of the bone could be sticking through the skin. Whatever the physical diagnosis, a person should always get an X-ray to confirm a long bone fracture.

4. Keep it put

The treatment for long bone fracture is twofold. If the fracture is a mold or stress fracture, then you will need to immobilize the fracture with a cast. However, if the long bone fracture is more severe, it will require surgery to insert a pin, plate or screw to reconnect the bone, followed by immobilization.

5. Rehabbing the Fracture

Depending on the severity of the fracture, it can take several weeks or months for the fractured bone to heal correctly. During these months or weeks, the bone must stay immobilized or the patient risks damaging it further. After the cast is gone, take your time returning to normal physical activity. Once the bone fully heals, the muscle will require rehabilitation to develop the strength it lost while it was immobile. Rebuilding the muscle takes a few months as well. Just remember that whatever recovery your doctor prescribes that is what you need to do; otherwise, a re-fracture could occur and you would have to start the process all over again.