There are different types of fractures that a doctor will look for when treating a patient who is believed to have a broken bone. A hairline fracture is a very fine, thin break that normally does not have an impact on how the bone functions. A greenstick fracture is a more pronounced break, but the bone is not broken in two. A bone break occurs when the bone is broken into two pieces. The final type of fracture is a compound fracture in which the bone breaks into two distinct pieces and one or both of the pieces protrude through the skin. When a bone breaks completely in two pieces, surgery may be needed to make sure the bone is set correctly.
Bone breaks of any kind will heal according to the severity of the break. A hairline fracture may be fully healed within two to three weeks, while a compound fracture may take two months or longer to completely heal. With a compound fracture that involves surgery, pins may have to be put in place to help the bones stay together. While this won't necessarily shorten the healing time, it may change how the doctor braces the injury during the healing process. A regular fracture may be put in a plaster cast for the duration of the recovery period, while other types of fractures may be put in a removable brace.
Fractures can be stabilized in several different ways. If the injury involves a hairline fracture, the only thing that might be needed is a brace or wrap. Fractures of a long bone or joint may require the use of a plaster cast or hard brace that must remain in place throughout the entire recovery period. A more severe break, like a compound fracture, may require the use of a rod and pins to keep the bones where they are supposed to be, long enough for them to heal. With some types of breaks, the doctor may recommend wearing a brace for a few months after the injury has healed, especially if the person uses the injured area as part of the job.
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