A fracture is a complete or incomplete break in a bone resulting from the application of excessive force. A fracture usually results from traumatic injury to bones causing the continuity of bone tissues or bony cartilage to be disrupted or broken.
Fracture classifications include simple, compound, incomplete and complete. Simple fractures (more recently called “closed”) are not obvious as the skin has not been ruptured and remains intact. Compound fractures (now commonly called “open”) break the skin, exposing bone and causing additional soft tissue injury and possible infection. A single fracture means that one fracture only has occurred and multiple fractures refer to more than one fracture occurring in the same bone. Fractures are termed complete if the break is completely through the bone and described as incomplete or “greenstick” if the fracture occurs partly across a bone shaft. This latter type of fracture is often the result of bending or crushing forces applied to a bone.
Fractures are also named according to the specific part of the bone involved and the nature of the break. Identification of a fracture line can further classify fractures. Types include linear, oblique, transverse, longitudinal, and spiral fractures. Fractures can be further subdivided by the positions of bony fragments and are described as comminuted, non-displaced, impacted, overriding, angulated, displaced, avulsed, and segmental. Additionally, an injury may be classified as a fracture-dislocation when a fracture involves the bony structures of any joint with associated dislocation of the same joint.