Common Fractures and Breaks You May Not RealizeFeb 5, 2014
Bones, as strong as they may be, can definitely fracture and break when too much force is being put on them. Most bone fractures and breaks are obvious, but there are some that aren’t as easy to diagnose – you might feel pain, but you won’t see it. So how do you know if you need to get an x-ray? From Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, Idaho, director of medical imaging Marjean Barnett talks about the common injuries that can happen in areas surrounded by mountains and valleys, and how to tell if you have a fractured or broken bone.
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Interviewer: When something happen to you who are the people that help? It's the people that can see inside sometimes. Those are the medical imaging people at your local hospital. We're talking with Marjean Barnett, Director of Medical Imaging here at Teton Valley Hospital. I want to talk to you about a couple of things. First of all, I think it's fascinating, in the area that you live what are some of the fractures of injuries you see here that are specific to this area do you think?
Marjean Barnett: The ones that are probably most common are the ones we see from people off the ski hill: snowboarders and skiers. Some of the common ones with snowboarders we see a lot of wrist fractures and shoulder dislocations. With skiers we see what's called a boot top fracture which is a spiral fracture which will break the tibia close to the boot top and the fibula high up close to the knee just because of how to knee is torqued when those fractures happen.
Interviewer: Is there anything unique about those types of injuries from snowboarders and skiers? Do they break particularly nasty, or are they fairly clean breaks?
Marjean Barnett: They can be. Sometime they're pretty bad looking, but often they're clean.
Interviewer: Are they full breaks normally or are they just fractures generally?
Marjean Barnett: Both.
Interviewer: Both, you really can't generalize that sort of thing.
Marjean Barnett: No.
Interviewer: When it comes to other types of injuries that might happen around the area let's talk about four wheelers, snowmobiling or even some of the rural population here that might go horseback riding. What types of injuries do you see with them?
Marjean Barnett: Those are all things that we do see here. Four wheelers and motor bikes can roll over going down a hillside. That can be a head injury of ribs crushed. It's similar to what we see with horseback when somebody gets thrown from a horse. We'll see ribs or a head injury which we then take not just to x-ray, but to CT where we want to look at their head to make sure they didn't fracture anything there. With mountain biking, head injuries. I've seen fractured hips. They just turn a little too sharp on a gravel road or hit a rock going down a trail in the mountains. That's what we see there.
Interviewer: Are there people who get injured that then do themselves more damage afterwards? I guess what I'm getting at is, say I get injured on a mountain bike or I get thrown from a horse, are there things I should and should not do before I come in? How do I even know I need to come in at that point? Is it going to be pretty obvious? Am I going to be in a lot of pain?
Marjean Barnett: It's probably going to be pretty obvious. A lot of times you're not going to be able to do much other than seek some help. If you're by yourself it's pretty difficult and you're going to have to at least get to a spot where you'll have cell phone reception so you can call. Definitely be prepared if it's the winter to be out in the cold in case you can't.
Interviewer: So I'm not going to be able to walk on it? Could I do more damage if I try?
Marjean Barnett: Depends, you could. Yes, definitely you could do more damage.
Interviewer: Would you say to err on the side of caution when it comes to if you think you've got something wrong to come in and get some x-rays?
Marjean Barnett: Yes, because if you wait too long it can start to heal, and then it might have to be rebroken to set it correctly.
Interviewer: That doesn't sound fun.
Marjean Barnett: No, that's not good.
Recording: We're your daily dose of science, conversation and medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.