Is it a fracture, a break, or a crack?

Friday, December 5th, 2014, 4:37 pm

Dr. Bharat Desai gave patients at a recent seminar an opportunity to look at x-rays to see if they could tell the difference between a fracture and a cracked or broken bone. It was a trick question.

“They are the same thing,” Dr. Desai told the group after a few minutes.

Dr. Desai is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who helps trauma patients at Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center in metro Denver. He held the free educational seminar to help patients better understand bone structure, fractures, healing and new plating technology.

Dr. Desai emphasized during his seminar that patient education is important to ensuring successful recovery from injury.

“What I found is that, when we’re talking to patients about fractures, patients sort of get an idea of what it is, but not really,” he said. “That understanding is critical. Fracture, break, crack, it’s the same: The structure of the bone is interrupted.”

There are several ways in which a bone can break, or fracture, and the break can be either partial or complete. The type of break depends on a variety of factors, including the cause.

Broken bones are common in trauma incidents, such as car accidents, and sports injuries. Patients with bones weakened by osteoporosis are also at a heightened risk for breaks.

The body will heal a broken bone on its own, but doctors use a variety of supportive devices such as casts, splints, pins and plates, to ensure that the break heals properly.

“Your bone will knit together by itself, but we want it to knit together straight,” Dr. Desai explains.

A broken bone is typically stable after six to eight weeks, however it may take longer for a patient to recover full use of the affected bone, and the weakened muscle surrounding the break. Or should we say, fracture?

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