Ortho Week: Most common fractures
Fractures, or bone breaks, are one of the most common reasons for emergency room or urgent care visits.
In children, the most common fracture is in the arms. They break their wrists or forearms the most often because when they fall, they throw out their arms to stop their fall. The force of the fall can snap the bones anywhere along the arm.
Another type of injury often seen among children is the dislocated elbow or shoulder. This often happens to young children who are being swung by their parents by the hand. A parent may take the child by both hands and swing him or her around. Or one adult takes one hand of a child, another the other hand, and the two of them swing the child back and forth. Unfortunately, this can often result in a very painful dislocation.
Throughout adulthood, the most common fracture remains the wrist fracture. On the other hand, the most common fracture in people over 75 years old, is the hip fracture. Unfortunately, when an elderly person fractures any bone, especially a hip, healing is much more difficult than it might have been a few decades earlier.
The adult human body has 206 bones, obviously some are more prone to fractures than others. This changes throughout the years as well, particularly among women as they reach menopause.
According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, up until the age of 45, more men than women break a bone. After 45, women break more bones. And, according to the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR), about 700,000 fractures in the spine, in the United States, is caused because of osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones.
Should we worry about broken bones?
For some, a broken bone is a rite of passage. The kid in the class with a cast on the arm is often popular and everyone wants to hear how he or she broke it. The kid with crutches is very popular because all the kids want a turn using the crutches. For the most part, a childhood fracture isn't too bad, considering all the other health problems that exist. However, that doesn't mean that fractures are problem-free.
For some with fractures , the break requires surgery to set the bone properly. Surgery always has some risks, regardless of how minor it may seem. Others find that their fractures don't heal as well as they should. This can cause life-long problem with the bone.
When we look at the elderly and the fractures they may have, the complications and concerns multiply.
A senior with a broken hip or pelvis, for example, can't be independent and continue his or her life as before. One serious complication to such fractures is the pulmonary embolism. Someone with a broken hip or pelvis can't move around very much – a risk for pulmonary embolism – plus the trauma of the fracture can reduce the blood flow in the area. A clot could break loose and head into the lungs.
Many fractured hips or pelvises require surgery to help stabilize them. Again, this is an increased risk for an older person.
Someone with a broken hip has to rely on others to do the most basic things for them, including providing proper nutrition. An elderly person who used to be vital and active, could end up being alone and depressed because of a hip fracture.
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