You might have heard the term “compound fracture” before, but are you sure what it means? A compound fracture is a break in the skin and the bone. It is also called an open or comminuted fracture because of its severity. Compound fractures can be difficult to treat, so knowing more about them will help you understand how to identify them and seek treatment if necessary. Here are 10 things everyone should know about dealing with a compound fracture.
1. The Difference Between a Compound and Uncomplicated Fracture
One of the primary differences between a compound fracture and an uncomplicated break is that with a compound fracture, more than one bone might be broken. The skin or soft tissue may also be affected by the fracture, which can make treatment more complicated because of the risk for infection and other complications.
2. Know the Symptoms of a Compound Fracture
If you have a compound fracture, more than one bone is likely broken and there may be damage to the skin or soft tissue. You might experience symptoms such as the following:
- Swelling around the area of injury, which could be more easily noticed if the injured area has no cast or bandage
- Bruising around the injured area
- Tenderness in the injured area, particularly if this is exacerbated by movement
- Warmth or heat coming from the injured area, which could indicate an infection
- A popping sound when you move your body into certain positions
3. Know the Prompts for Seeking Out Medical Attention
If you have symptoms of a compound fracture, it is important to seek out medical attention immediately. In some cases, you can treat a broken bone at home if there has been no open wound or damage to the skin or soft tissue, but symptoms of a compound fracture are signs that you need help. Promptly getting help for your injuries is the best way to prevent them from worsening over time.
You can visit the emergency room, but they might not attend to you in time. As such, you can also go to an urgent care facility to seek help from a physician. These facilities are less crowded, so you will usually be seen more quickly than you would at an emergency room.
4. How Likely You Are to Develop One
You may be wondering how likely you are to develop a compound fracture. Some factors increase your risk for developing a compound fracture such as these conditions:
- Having diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of vitamin D
5. How to Know If You Are Dealing with a Compound Fracture
You really can’t tell if you fractured a bone unless you get an X-ray. But for compound fractures, the X-rays might not be that clear. This is because the skin may swell and cause the skin to bow so there will be no clear view of the bones. As such, the physician might need to operate on you to see the full extent of the damage.
6. What a Compound Fracture Treatment Involves
Treatment for a compound fracture can be different than treatment for an uncomplicated break. You can treat a compound fracture with surgery to remove debris and to align the ends of the broken bones. If the skin is damaged, the doctor might opt to operate there as well.
7. How Long It Takes for Treatment to Be Effective
Depending on the severity of the fracture, you might need to wear a cast or use crutches or other assistance for several weeks. For example, your doctor will likely recommend surgery for a compound fracture. Surgeries can take from one to two hours, and you will need to stay in the hospital overnight. The surgery usually takes two to four weeks for the bone to heal enough so that you can remove the cast and use crutches.
8. How to Protect Your Broken Bone
You might not be able to cast or bandage your broken bone on your own if this has occurred due to a compound fracture. If the injury is serious enough for you to need immediate medical attention, then you might suffer from additional complications.
Since there are many factors that can increase your risk of developing a compound fracture, it is important to be aware of these factors and take steps to protect your bone health. These factors include weight, bone health, hypertension, diabetes, and tobacco use.
9. How to Treat Compound Fractures at Home
Simply put, it is important to get medical attention if you think you have a compound fracture. There are some things that you can do at home to take care of the injury, though. These include the following measures:
- Keeping the injured area elevated
- Ice packs to prevent swelling
- Removing any debris or dirt from the wound
- Putting on a bandage
10. What You Can Do to Prevent Compound Fractures
If you have diabetes or other conditions that can affect your bone health, there are things you can do to lower your risk of a compound fracture. For example, you will need to have regular checkups with your doctor and go for a bone density test. You should also get more Vitamin D and calcium to help keep your bones strong.
If you have risk factors for fractures, you can reduce your risk by quitting smoking, getting more vitamin D and calcium in your diet, taking medications as prescribed by your doctor, and getting more exercise.
There’s no best way to prevent a compound fracture. First, you need the right amount of vitamin D and calcium in your diet. You’ll also have to maintain a healthy weight or work on losing weight if you are overweight and exercise regularly. And finally, you can protect yourself from falls by being more vigilant.