Types of Fractures

Classification of various types of fractures depends upon several factors such as:

  • The spot in the bone where there is a break
  • Whether the fragments are well aligned
  • The number of pieces of the fractured bone
  • The condition of the skin at the site of the fracture
Basic classification refers to fractures as either - simple or compound. When the skin remains intact and the bone is cracked, bent or broken, it is called a simple fracture. Compound fractures are more severe as they usually involve open wounds and run a greater risk of infection. Compression fracture usually occurs in the spine caused by the weakening of bones over time. When a fracture occurs because of the weakening of bones due to a medical condition such as osteoporosis or cancer, the term pathological bone fracture is used to describe it.

Among the different kinds of fractures on the long bones in the body,

  • Transverse fractures are those occurring perpendicular to the long axis of the bone.
  • Spiral fractures occur when the bone breaks as a result of a twisting motion applied to the bone and broken bone edges are often zig zag.
  • A comminuted fracture is one where the bone is broken into several fragments.
  • An oblique fracture is one where the break occurs diagonal to the bone’s long axis.
  • When there is a break along the length of the bone, it is called a longitudinal fracture.  
  • One fracture which is difficult to detect but quicker to heal is a hairline fracture which is a partial crack of the bone.
  • Common among growing children are green stick fractures where the bone fractured on one side bends rather than breaks completely. Normally, fractures in children heal much faster than those in adults. However, one complication of pediatric fractures is that when the fracture is close to a growth plate, it may result in stunted growth. The damaged growth plate may arrest the normal growth of the bone.