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HEALTH REPORT - Something a Bone Will Never Say: Give Me a Break

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

An x-ray of a bone fracture
An x-ray of a bone fracture

The medical term for a broken bone is a fracture. But there are different kinds of fractures.

A single fracture is when a bone is broken in just one place. You may have heard the term hairline fracture. This is a single fracture that is very small, like the width of a hair. A complete fracture is when the bone comes apart.

When a bone is broken in more than two places or gets crushed, the name for it is a comminuted fracture.

Still another kind is a bowing fracture. This happens with a bone that bends but does not break. It happens mostly in children.

Ever heard of a greenstick fracture? This is when a bone is bent and breaks along only one side, like a young stick of wood.

Another kind of break is an open or compound fracture. This is when the bone breaks the skin. This is very serious. Along with the bone damage there is a risk of infection in the open wound.

A lot of things happen as the body reacts to an injury like a broken bone. You might suddenly feel lightheaded. You might also feel sick to your stomach.

People who are seriously injured can go into shock. They might feel cold, dizzy and unable to think clearly. Shock requires immediate medical attention.

But while broken bones can be painful, they are generally not life-threatening. Treatment depends on the kind of fracture. A doctor takes X-rays to see the break and sets a broken bone to make sure it is in the correct position.

Severe breaks may require an operation to hold the bone together with metal plates and screws.

Next, a person usually gets a cast put around the area of the break. The hard bandage holds the bone in place while it heals. Casts are usually worn for one to two months.

In some cases, instead of a cast, a splint made of plastic or metal will be secured over the area to restrict movement.

Doctors say broken bones should be treated quickly because they can restrict blood flow or cause nerve damage. Also, the break will start to repair itself, so you want to make sure the bone is lined up correctly.

Bones need calcium and vitamin D to grow and reach their full strength. Keeping your bones strong with exercise may also help prevent fractures.

Wearing safety protection like elbow pads and leg guards during activities is a good idea. If you think these might be restrictive, try a cast.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report written by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara Klein.

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