A comminuted fracture occurs when a sudden blow or crushing force is applied to a bone in the body, causing it to fracture into 3 or more pieces. It is believed to take anywhere from 9-13 lbs of pressure to fracture the smaller bones in the body such as the nose. The breaking point of larger bones, such as the femur (the strongest bone in the body), can be as high as 160 psi. Of course, these figures depend on the manner in which the bone is struck.
Common Comminuted Fracture Locations
The most common body part to experience this condition in is the forearm and wrist. Because the forearm contains two thinner bones, the larger radius and smaller ulna, it is easier to fracture than the thicker and stronger shin bone (tibia). Since the radius offers the most support to the forearm, it takes more of the impact and is more likely to shatter. The human defense reaction of catching falls with their hands is the main cause of these injuries. Bicyclists are especially at risk for comminuted fractures since they often fall from higher up with much more force, due to the momentum behind them. Any other sport or activity that involves contact or uses hard surfaces increases the participant’s risk of comminutes fractures.
The other common recipient of a comminuted fracture is the elderly, particularly those with diseases that weaken the bone. Common such diseases are bone cancer, osteoporosis, and hormonal imbalances that limit bone development. Many of these can be avoided by a diet rich is substances necessary for bone growth and repair, such as calcium and proteins.
Though the forearm is the most common place for a comminuted fracture to occur, any bone that receives a blow can fracture. Some of the most painful while healing are the ribs and the jaw bone, which has to be wired shut.