Merck Manual

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Fractures (Incomplete or Complete)
Fractures (Incomplete or Complete)
Fractures (Incomplete or Complete)

    The skeletal system is made up of 206 bones and provides support, allows for movement, and protects the internal organs of the body. Sometimes too much pressure is applied to a bone that results in what is known as a fracture. Fractures are commonly caused by a fall, strike from an object, or by twisting or bending of the bone. When the bone is only cracked or partially broken, doctors refer to it as an incomplete fracture.

    A hairline fracture is an incomplete fracture, like a crack that does not break all the way through the bone. It usually is the result of a relatively minor injury. A greenstick fracture is an incomplete fracture that is similar to the break of a young tree branch. Only one side of the bone breaks causing the bone to bend. Both hairline and greenstick fractures are usually treated by immobilization with a cast to allow it to mend.

    When the bone is broken into pieces, doctors refer to it as a complete fracture. A simple fracture is a complete fracture where the bone is broken into two fragments. This break can be

    • Transverse (which means straight across the bone)

    • Oblique (which means at an angle)

    • And spiral (which means an angle that is twisted)

    A comminuted (or multifragmentary) fracture is a complete fracture where the bone is broken into several fragments. This type of fracture is usually a result of a severe injury. Both simple and comminuted fractures are usually treated with immobilization with a cast or sometimes with pins screws and plates.

    All fractures must be taken seriously. If you think that a bone has been fractured, you should seek immediate medical attention.

In these topics
Overview of Fractures