What is an Impacted Fracture?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
The upper extremity of the femur, in the hip, is a large, critical bone structure, and as such usually requires pins, rods, or other devices to hold it in place during healing.
The upper extremity of the femur, in the hip, is a large, critical bone structure, and as such usually requires pins, rods, or other devices to hold it in place during healing.

An impacted fracture is a fracture in which the bone breaks into multiple fragments which are driven into each other. This type of fracture can present some challenges when it comes to setting the fracture and waiting for it to heal. Impacted fractures are usually treated by orthopedic surgeons and a support team which includes operating room staff who keep the patient safe during the surgery used to set the bone.

A severe impacted fracture of the hip may need hip replacement surgery to fix.
A severe impacted fracture of the hip may need hip replacement surgery to fix.

This type of fracture is usually caused by something like a fall, especially if someone breaks a fall with the arms or legs. The impact of the fall is such that not only are the bones broken, but pieces of bone push into each other with the force of the fall. These fractures are usually very painful and also very noticeable; the fracture will not be confused with a lesser sprain.

The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture, especially in elderly adults.
The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture, especially in elderly adults.

X-ray imaging is used to visualize fractures to determine the location and nature of the break. In an impacted fracture the X-ray will show small pieces of bone around the site of the fracture, and it will also show compression and compaction. Correcting the fracture requires decompressing the fracture, making sure that all of the pieces are accounted for, and casting so that the bone has a chance to heal. In some cases, pins, rods, and other devices may be used to hold the bone in place during the healing because the bone cannot support itself.

An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.
An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.

The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture especially in elderly adults. When someone falls and breaks the femoral neck it can result in an impacted hip fracture. Because the hip is a large and critical bone, such fractures usually need to be pinned and there may be cases in which hip replacement is required because the bone is too badly damaged. This can usually be determined by looking at the X-rays of the fracture, but sometimes the surgeon must actually see the fracture in the operating room to get a clear idea of what is happening.

Fracture treatment may involve surgery.
Fracture treatment may involve surgery.

Surgeons generally recommend operating as quickly as possible if surgery is needed to correct an impacted fracture. This will reduce the risk of complications for the patient. When emergency surgery is required, it is helpful for the surgical team to know when someone last ate or drank, what kind of medications the person is on, if there are any allergies, and if the patient has a history of major surgery or other major medical events.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon996383

Due to a fall I multiple fractured my left hip. After a "pinney" operation, I'm left with my left leg 1 inch shorter than the right. Does anyone know what went wrong? My doctor won't tell me; he says all these complications are due to my bone structure or were there before the operation.

Valencia

My grandmother has just been diagnosed as having an impacted subcapital fracture of her hip. She's been battling osteoporosis for years so is very careful when walking. Unluckily this happened after she bumped hard into a table!

The good news is she'll be living with us after she gets out of hospital. This gives her a much greater chance of a full recovery.

Penzance356

@angelBraids - What you are describing sounds more like a hairline fracture. I strongly recommend that he says a doctor to have this confirmed.

As well as medication to ease the pain, he needs x-rays to see how bad the fracture is. He will also need to rest his foot, so no more soccer for a while!

angelBraids

My boyfriend was injured playing soccer a couple of weeks ago. I'm pretty sure he has all the fracture symptoms listed here, except the pain isn't as bad as described.

His foot is really pale, and alternates between some pain and a tingly feeling. He's also having problems walking on it. Is it possible that he has an impacted fracture and just doesn't know it?

I am trying to get him to see a doctor but he's being a bit macho right now!

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    • The upper extremity of the femur, in the hip, is a large, critical bone structure, and as such usually requires pins, rods, or other devices to hold it in place during healing.
      The upper extremity of the femur, in the hip, is a large, critical bone structure, and as such usually requires pins, rods, or other devices to hold it in place during healing.
    • A severe impacted fracture of the hip may need hip replacement surgery to fix.
      A severe impacted fracture of the hip may need hip replacement surgery to fix.
    • The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture, especially in elderly adults.
      The hip is a common site of an impacted fracture, especially in elderly adults.
    • An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.
      An impacted fracture can severely limit mobility until it is fully healed, especially in older adults.
    • Fracture treatment may involve surgery.
      Fracture treatment may involve surgery.