Understanding Nondisplaced Fracture: How to Diagnose and Treat It

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Nondisplaced Fracture
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A nondisplaced fracture is a common injury in which a force causes the bone to crack or break but maintain its alignment. A nondisplaced fracture treatment plan is similar to that of a severe break that repositions the bone, or a displaced bone fracture. There are, however, vast differences, and it is important to understand what is nondisplaced fracture and the proper ways to treat it.

“Fracture” is the medical term for a broken bone, and it is said that everyone will experience a form of a bone fracture twice in their lifetime. Although it is seen in both children and adults, a young bone will heal more quickly and with less complications than the bone of an older adult.

A nondisplaced fracture may occur more easily with brittle bones and in situations that cause this type of fracture.

What Is a Nondisplaced Fracture?


According to the accepted nondisplaced fracture definition, the bone must be split into two or more parts. Fragments of the bone may break off, but they will remain in proper alignment, as opposed to hovering nearby. This is why the nondisplaced fracture is often also a closed fracture, which does not puncture the skin.

A severe nondisplaced fracture may have soft-tissue damage that requires surgery. This may be due to the fracture being the result of an impact of the surrounding area and not just retained to one small location of the bone.

What Causes a Nondisplaced Fracture?


A direct and forceful impact to the bone causes a nondisplaced fracture. The impact is greater than the bone can endure, causing it to crack or separate into pieces. It is seen with a sudden, powerful force.

A nondisplaced fracture is common in falls, auto accidents, or sports injuries. This form of fracture may also be caused by overuse of the affected area of the body.

Symptoms of Nondisplaced Fracture

A nondisplaced fracture is a breakage of the bone. Symptoms are typical of what one might expect, with pain being on the higher end of the scale.

You may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Sounds of grinding or snapping at the time of the impact
  • Moderate to severe pain without causing tenderness to the touch, usually not as painful as a displaced fracture
  • Noticeable swelling immediately following the injury
  • Redness and bruising shortly after the fracture, surrounding the affected area.

Common Areas Affected by Nondisplaced Fracture and Measures to Take

Foot and Toe

With a nondisplaced fracture of the foot bone or a nondisplaced fracture of the toe bone, there may be swelling and severe pain, especially upon impact.

As this varies among cases, so does the healing process. Many nondisplaced fractures in these regions require a walking cast or a wrap.

You should:

  • Rest the foot with little to no walking or weight-bearing pressure. Crutches may be needed.
  • Support the foot with a soft wrap for the first 48 hours to minimize swelling.
  • Elevate foot for the first two days after the injury.
  • Apply a cold compress during this stage to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Severe pain may require over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication.
  • Follow-up with doctor appointments.

Ankle and Fibula

A nondisplaced fracture of the ankle bone or a nondisplaced fracture of the fibula, will follow treatment plans similar to that of a foot injury. A cast or wrap is used along with crutches to alleviate pain and swelling of weight-bearing activities.

Usually, a cast is placed once the majority of the swelling subsides, within the first 24 hours.

  • Rest the ankle or fibula by not placing any weight on it.
  • Use a soft wrap to help with the swelling and support the fibula or ankle, which is crucial during the first 48 hours of healing.
  • Elevate the ankle for the first two days at a level above the heart.
  • Place cold compresses on the site a for 20-minute treatment for the first 48 hours.
  • Use over-the-counter or prescription pain medication for severe pain.
  • Follow up with doctor appointments.

Wrist

If the injury involves a nondisplaced fracture of the wrist bone, a splint is commonly used to limited movement of the wrist and hand. A cast may be used if the wrist bone is found not to be healing properly.

  • Limit use of the wrist.
  • Wear a splint to prevent movement of the wrist bone. Remove only to bathe and dress.
  • Elevate the wrist above heart level during the first 48 hours of the injury.
  • Use cold compresses during this time to reduce swelling and alleviate mild pain.
  • Treat severe pain with over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
  • Follow-up with doctor appointments.

Finger

With a nondisplaced fracture of the finger bone, a splint helps to keep alignment and limit movement. A finger nondisplaced fracture can take several weeks to heal. Any wound or cut caused by the injury needs to be treated and monitored for signs of infection.

  • Rest finger with minimal usage.
  • Elevate as much as possible for the first two days.
  • Apply a cold compress during this time to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Use over-the-counter or prescribed medication if needed.
  • Wear splint at all times except during bathing.
  • After three days, remove the splint to allow the finger to gently bend and move in all directions. Replace splint after exercising.
  • Monitor for any signs of infection.
  • Follow up with doctor appointments.

Elbow

A nondisplaced fracture of the elbow bone may cause severe pain and reduced range of motion of the arm. A sling is commonly used in these cases.

  • Use a sling to rest the elbow in place.
  • Elevate the elbow above heart level for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling.
  • Apply a cold compress during this time for the pain and swelling.
  • Over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication may be required.
  • Follow up with doctor appointments.

Other Areas

Avulsion Fracture occurs at the attachment of the bone with the tendons or ligaments. This nondisplaced fracture is commonly seen in athletes who fail to properly warm up the muscles with stretching before games or practices. It can also result in a displaced fracture.

Scaphoid Fracture is a break of the smallest wrist bone. The scaphoid breakage requires a cast to be worn on the wrist during the healing process. It rarely requires surgery.

Nasal Fracture involves fracture of the nasal bone on the upper portion of the nose. It can also be a displaced fracture, and both forms of fractures present severe nosebleed immediately with the injury.

Oblique Fracture refers to a crack diagonal to the axis of the bone involved. A nondisplaced oblique fracture is distinguished by the bone’s alignment remaining intact with an injury.

Patella Fracture occurs with fracture of the knee bone. A cast is commonly used to stabilize the knee during treatment.

Supracondylar Fracture refers to a crack along the lower tip of the humerus bone. Known commonly as a nondisplaced hairline fracture, it is the most common fracture of children while a rarity in adulthood.

Spiral Fracture occurs when a pivoting force hits the axis of the bone. Also known as a torsion fracture, this is commonly seen with the affected bone moving while the body remains in one spot.

Rib Fracture is a break of one or more of the rib bones. A nondisplaced rib fracture causes breathing difficulty.

Olecranon Fracture is a common result of a fall with impact to the bony part of the elbow. A nondisplaced fracture sees immobilization of the elbow for three weeks.

Tibial Plateau Fracture is a break of the shinbone, or the tibia. It occurs with a forceful impact, mainly seen with auto accidents. A knee brace is often used to help limit movement during treatment.

Nondisplaced Fracture Recovery Time: How Long Does It Take to Heal?

The recovery time for a nondisplaced fracture depends on the location of the bone in question as well as the severity. The treatment used also plays a role.

In most cases, the affected area is immobilized, allowing the fracture to heal on its own. The healing time is also dependent on the patient following all strict guidelines of the treatment. Follow-up X-rays and physical examinations by a doctor ensures proper healing.

While healing, maintaining flexibility of the region is crucial. The range of motion and movement exercises work to help the recuperation of the bone. Too much too soon can prolong the healing process, while infrequent movement can cause pain and stiffness of the affected area.

A nondisplaced fracture can happen in an instant as a result of a fall or an accident. Any form of a forceful impact to a bone in the body may cause the bone to crack or to break into pieces. As the name implies, these pieces remain in place but separated from the bone.

Treatment depends on the location of the breakage as well as the severity of the fracture. Most cases see immobilization techniques allow the bone to heal on its own over a span of several weeks. Severe, and rare, cases may require surgical intervention.


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