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Types of Fractures

A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. When a fracture occurs, it is classified as either open or closed:

  • open fracture (Also called compound fracture.)  -  the bone exits and is visible through the skin, or a deep wound that exposes the bone through the skin.

  • closed fracture (Also called simple fracture.)  -  the bone is broken, but the skin is intact.

Fractures have a variety of names. Below is a listing of the common types that may occur:

  • greenstick  -  incomplete fracture. The broken bone is not completely separated.

Illustration of greenstick fracture
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  • transverse  -  the break is in a straight line across the bone.

Illustration of transverse fracture
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  • spiral  -  the break spirals around the bone; common in a twisting injury.

Illustration of spiral fracture
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  • oblique  -  diagonal break across the bone.

Illustration of oblique fracture
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  • compression  -  the bone is crushed, causing the broken bone to be wider or flatter in appearance.

Illustration of a compression fracture
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Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 3/31/2008
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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