What is a Complete Fracture?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2019
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Complete fractures are breaks that run the entire width of a bone. With a complete fracture, the bone is broken in a manner where at least two sections of bone are completed. This form of complete bone fracture can be complicated by swelling that pushes the two segments of bone away from each other, making it important to immobilize the injured area and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

As with any type of bone fracture, the body will begin the healing process almost immediately. Essentially, the body begins to form a blood clot between the two segments of the fracture, which in turn pulls in white blood cells to help to clear the area of inflammation and infection. Slowly, collagen begins to fill in the area occupied by the blood clot, making it possible for the body to create crystals that begin to bind the two sections together with new bone.

In order to facilitate healing, it is important to set the broken bone into a natural position as soon as possible. Doing so will support the natural healing process, and make it possible for the bone to mend properly. In many cases, the use of a splint or cast will help keep the broken bone in position while the body repairs the break.


With severe cases, a physician may determine that the use of screws or plates would help to keep the sections of the broken bone in place during the healing process. This is usually the case when there is a complete fracture compounded with other bone fractures in the same general area. The use of screws and plates augment the healing process and make it much more likely that the complete fracture as well as the other fractures heal in a natural position.

Healing time will vary, depending on the severity and the location of the fracture. If additional fractures and tissue damage are also factors, the duration of the healing could be extended. The age and general health of the patient will also play a role in the length of time required for the healing to be complete. For example, a young child who sustained a complete fracture by falling out of a tree is likely to heal relatively quickly, sometimes in as little as three months. However, an adult in his or her forties who sustained a complete fracture and several other injuries as a result of a car accident may take as much as eighteen months to heal.


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Post 3

@EdRick - My son has had fractures of all types it seems, so I've had a chance to get educated! Yes, they can overlap, and some of the types actually mean the same thing. A complete fracture can be simple, also called closed (meaning it doesn't break the skin) or compound, also called open (breaks the skin). A complete fracture can be either transverse or oblique (that has to do with the angle of the break) and either impacted or not.

Post 2

There are so many kinds of fractures! Do they overlap? A complete fracture seems to be different from a greenstick fracture or a hairline fracture, but can a fracture be both complete and simple? Complete and compound?

Post 1

thanks. this website is always useful.

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