Comminuted Fracture: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Broken bones happen all the time and are usually the result of falls or accidents. They are one of the most common reasons for an emergency visit in the United States. Not treating them can lead to permanent disabilities and even death. Among the types of fractures is a comminuted fracture,

Comminuted Fracture

A comminuted fracture is an injury where the bone has been severely damaged and broken into pieces. The injury is more severe because the bone broke into pieces and requires emergency attention to properly heal and avoid further damage.

Comminuted fractures generally fall into open or closed comminuted fractures. In an open comminuted fracture, the injury breaks open the skin. And if the skin doesn’t break loose, you may be having a closed comminuted fracture.

The five anatomical areas frequently affected by a comminuted fracture are the femur, tibia, humerus, ulna, and radius. Comminuted fractures to the femur and tibia are most likely to become unstable if not properly treated.

A fracture doesn’t always mean that your bone has to have its ends fixed with metals or pins. In many cases, your doctor can heal bones in place without surgery. However, if you have a broken bone, ask your doctor about what treatment is best for you.

Causes of Comminuted Fracture

Physical trauma and a health condition such as osteoporosis are the leading cause of comminuted fracture. Generally, healthy bones are highly resilient and can withstand surprisingly powerful impacts; however, they may crack or break under intense pressure or force.

Symptoms of Comminuted Fracture

The comminuted fracture can cause intense pain and restrict mobility. You may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Intense pain.
  • Restricted mobility
  • Seeing your bone through your skin.
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Deformity

Diagnosis of Comminuted Fractures

During your appointment, you must tell the doctor about your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Your doctor may order an X-ray or other tests to diagnose your comminuted fracture. An x-ray provides a clear image of your bone structures and helps doctors verify the location and type of fracture. Other tests your doctor may order include:


An MRI scan shows detailed images of the inside of the body by using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.

MRIs can show organs, tissues, bones, and tumors and can be used alone or combined with computer enhancement to detect tissue changes. Your doctor may analyze these images to detect fractures.

CT scan

Computed tomography (CT) is an imaging test that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. Compared to x-rays, CT scans offer a more detailed body image.

Treatment of Comminuted Fractures

The treatment of a complex fracture requires accurate diagnosis and sound judgment. One of the first treatments for a comminuted fracture is to apply a splint to keep the broken bones from moving.

If you have a comminuted fracture, your doctor may recommend surgery. The type of surgical procedure your doctor will perform may vary depending on the fractured bone and complications from your trauma.

Your doctor may use the most common technique, Open Reduction, and Internal Fixation. This procedure involves the alignment of the fractured bones using rods, plates, screws, and pins.

Bone Grafting

Comminuted fractures that do not heal well after the fracture or bones that are severely displaced may require bone grafting. Your doctor will insert bone tissues into the fractured location to support regrowth to perform this procedure.

How to Prevent Comminuted Fractures

Maintaining healthy bones requires a proper diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and regular exercise. You should always wear protective gear when engaging in high-impact sports such as football, rugby, or snowboarding.

Complications from a Comminuted Fracture

With the proper treatment, you can expect a comminuted fracture to heal correctly; however, certain complications may occur, such as:

  • Bone death (avascular necrosis)
  • Bone shifting and healing in the wrong position
  • Deformity due to a disruption in bone growth
  • Bone marrow infections

You may not be able to do the things you love for a few months depending on the severity of your injury. If you want to speed up your recovery, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.


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