What Is the Difference Between Simple and Compound Fracture?

Broken bones often occur in car crashes, slip and falls and workplace accidents. The bones fracture due to the significant amount of stress or blunt force trauma which people typically experience in these accidents. For this reason, they are referred to as traumatic bone fractures. They are different from pathological bone fractures, which are caused by a medical condition such as osteoporosis.

The two main types of traumatic bone fractures that people suffer in accidents are simple and compound fractures. A simple fracture is one that causes the bone to crack, but it does not pierce the skin. The smallest of these fractures are often called hairline fractures. A compound fracture, on the other hand, completely breaks the bone. As a result, the bone may break through the skin.

It is important to understand the differences between these types of fractures. After all, whether a fracture is a simple or compound one can affect the extent of treatment that you need, the length of your recovery and, ultimately, the total cost of your injury.

Compound Fractures Can Be More Serious Than Simple Fractures

Any type of fracture can be painful and debilitating. However, compound fractures typically are more serious in nature than simple fractures for three important reasons:

  • Treatment – A simple fracture typically requires the use of a cast or splint to keep the bone stabilized and allow it to heal. However, a compound fracture can require much more extensive treatment such as a realignment, or reduction. In order to hold the bone in place, a doctor may use pins, screws or wires on the outside of the skin. This is called external fixation. Then, the doctor may insert rods, pins, screws or a plate under the skin to bring the bone back together. This is called internal fixation.
  • Infection risk – The risk of an infection is also much greater when a person suffers a compound fracture rather than a simple one. The infection can occur if the bone breaks through the skin and allows harmful bacteria to enter the body. If an infection occurs, it can significantly complicate matters and prolong the person’s recovery.
  • Costs – Ultimately, a compound fracture can cost more than a simple fracture in terms of medical treatment and rehabilitation. Additionally, a person with a compound fracture may be unable to work for a longer period of time than a person with a simple fracture. So, the injury will be costlier in terms of lost income, too.

What To Do If You Think You Have a Broken Bone

When you get into a car accident or suffer a fall, you may be in shock in the immediate aftermath. So, you may not realize that you have suffered a fracture. For this reason, it is important to look for signs that you may have suffered a broken bone and to promptly take steps to address it. Those signs include:

  • Intense pain
  • Inability to put any weight on the bone
  • Loss of use of the bone
  • Bruising or swelling
  • Deformity.

If you believe that you have a fracture, you should seek medical attention right away. Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, you should take the following additional steps:

  • Stop the bleeding – When a bone is broken – particularly if it is a compound fracture – a great deal of bleeding may occur. This bleeding can become a dangerous situation. The person may suffer significant blood loss if it’s not treated right away. While waiting for medical help, you should use a sterile bandage or a clean piece of clothing to stem the flow.
  • Immobilize the bone – It can be tempting to try and readjust a bone. If it has broken the skin, it is natural to want to push it back in. Or, if it is sticking out to one side, it is also natural to try and move it back to its original position. However, unless you have been trained in how to create a splint, you simply should not touch the area around the bone. Leave it alone as best as you can until you see a doctor.
  • Use ice packs – If possible, you should use ice packs to reduce the swelling. It will relieve some pain and make treating the injury easier for medical professionals. However, you should never apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, you should wrap it in cloth and place it on the skin.
  • Try to avoid shock – Broken bones are traumatic and can easily send the body into a state of shock. Feeling faint and breathing in short, rapid breaths are all signs of this highly dangerous condition. To avoid shock, you should try to lay down, with your head slightly lower than your trunk. Also, if you can, you should elevate your legs as well.

Our Norcross Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help You

If you suffer a broken bone in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should seek legal help in addition to medical attention. You may be eligible to recover compensation for the pain and suffering that you have endured as well as for your past and future medical expenses and loss of income.

At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are here to help you. We will ensure that you get the proper medical treatment, and we will work tirelessly to pursue full and fair compensation for the harm that you have suffered. Throughout your case, we will give you the one-on-one attention that you deserve, and we will be available 24/7 to answer your questions. We take pride in providing our clients with that type of highly personalized service as well as in our record of securing more than $150 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.

Our attorneys serve clients in Norcross and throughout Gwinnett County and the greater Atlanta area. Don’t try to take on your claim alone. Instead, contact us now and receive a free consultation about your case.

kevin adamson

Kevin Adamson is a former college baseball player who brings a competitive spirit to personal injury trials and settlement negotiations. Kevin played baseball at LaGrange College and went on to earn his MBA from Lynchburg College and his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Since 2001, he has focused on personal injury law and secured numerous six- and seven-figure results for his clients. He is also a registered arbitrator and mediator with extensive experience handling contract negotiations for a variety of professional services, including athletic contracts. Kevin also owns his own airplane and makes frequent use of it for his law practice, which has taken him to 18 states.