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Posted by on Mar 11, 2017 in Tell Me Why |

When Do Bones Break?

When Do Bones Break?

Bones break under varying degrees of pressure according to age, health and other circumstances. They are made of hard, strong connective tissue and normally resist considerable force before breaking or fracturing. But when a bone has been softened by disease or grown fragile with age, fractures may follow very minor accidents or even occur spontaneously (pathological fractures).

The bones of children are not fully mature and are still relatively flexible. In childhood a severe blow or fall often results in a “qreenstick” fracture, in which the bone appears to bend but does not completely break into two separate pieces.

An impacted fracture occurs when the broken ends of the bone appear to be jammed together by the force of the injury. A comminuted fracture is one in which the ends are shattered into many pieces. A fracture is called simple (closed) when the overlaying skin is not broken, or compound (open) when the bone is exposed.

All fractures attempt to heal themselves by producing new tissues to join the broken pieces together. At first this tissue is like putty and easily injured. So, generally a fractured limb should be straightened, immobilized and protected by a plaster cast while the healing takes place. In time the new tissue, or fracture callus, changes into mature bone.

What Happens When a Bone Breaks?

It hurts to break a bone! It’s different for everyone, but the pain is often like the deep ache you get from a super bad stomachache or headache. Some people may experience sharper pain — especially with an open fracture. And if the fracture is small, a kid may not feel much pain at all. Sometimes, kids won’t even be able to tell that they broke a bone!

Breaking a bone is a big shock to your whole body. It’s normal for you to receive strong messages from parts of your body that aren’t anywhere close to the fracture. You may feel dizzy, woozy, or chilly from the shock. A lot of people cry for a while. Some people pass out until their bodies have time to adjust to all the signals they’re getting. And other people don’t feel any pain right away because of the shock of the injury.

The worst thing for a broken bone is to move it. This will hurt the person and it can make the injury worse! In the case of a broken arm or leg, a grown-up may be able to cushion or support the surrounding area with towels or pillows.

How Do Broken Bones Heal?

Your bones are natural healers. At the location of the fracture, your bones will produce lots of new cells and tiny blood vessels that rebuild the bone. These cells cover both ends of the broken part of the bone and close up the break until it’s as good as new.

Content for this question contributed by Eric Harman, resident of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA