Monday, November 5, 2007

Broken Bones

What did I do?

Your body consists of over 200 bones of all different shapes and sizes. All of these bones in addition to muscles and the tendons and ligaments that put them together form the skeleton, which serves to protect many of the organs your body uses to function normally. Bones are dense and very strong, and they tend not to break easily, except in elderly people who have developed osteoperosis, a gradual weakening of the bones. Bone injuries are often quite painfull, and they may bleed, as all bones have an ample amount of blood and nerves. The two types of bone injuries are fractures, which may be open or closed, and dislocations, which involve muscles and joints as well. The body has over 600 muscles, which are soft tissue. Injuries to the brain, the spinal cord or nerves can affect a person's muscle control, and when a muscle is injured, a nearby muscle may take over for the injured one. A joint is formed where the ends of two or more bones come together in one place. The bones are held together by ligaments, which tear when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of movement. A sprain is the tearing of ligaments at a joint. A strain is a stretching and/or tearing of muscles or tendons.

An open fracture occurs when an arm or a leg twists in such a way that the broken bone ends tear through the skin, causing an open wound. In a closed fracture the skin is not broken; this type of fracture is much more common than an open fracture. An open fracture brings with it a chance of infection and also severe bleeding. Fractures can be life-threatening if they sever an artery, affect breathing, or occur in very large bones such as the femur in the thigh. A motor vehicle accident or any fall from a height may cause a fracture.

A dislocation is typically more noticeable than a fracture. A dislocation occurs when a bone moves away from its normal position at a joint. A violent force tears the ligaments that hold the bone in place at a joint, and the joint will no longer function. Usually, the displaced bone causes an obviously abnormal bump, ridge or hollow.

Sprains may swell but typically heal quickly. Pain may be minimal and the victim may be active soon, in which case the joint won't heal properly and will remain weak. It is likely to be reinjured more severely, possibly involving a fracture or dislocation of the bones at the joint. The most easily injured joints are at the ankle, knee, wrist and fingers.

Strains are frequently caused by lifting a very heavy object or working a muscle too hard. They usually involve muscles in the neck, back, thigh or back of the lower leg. Strains tend to reoccur, especially those located in the neck or back.

An x ray is the best way to assess the extent of damage to a bone, muscle or joint. However, you may be able to judge how serious the injury is by its appearance. The area may be red, bruised, swollen, twisted, or have bumps, ridges or hollows. The area may be painful to touch as well as to move, or the victim may be unable to move it. If you compare an injured body part with an uninjured one, you may be able to locate any abnormalities; this works well with an arm, a leg, a shoulder, a get the idea. Sometimes the victim may have heard a snap, crackle or a pop when the injury occurred, or he or she may feel bones grating. Also, the victim's hands and fingers or feet and toes may tingle or feel numb.

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