Broken bones and fractures are an everyday occurrence, with many of us suffering such injuries at least once during our lifetime.
Serious problems can develop, however, if they aren’t correctly diagnosed by a medical professional. If broken bones or fractures are misdiagnosed, or the diagnosis is delayed, then the patient could be left with life-long issues, such as osteoarthritis and avascular necrosis.
In this guide, we discuss what the most common broken bones and fractures are, the impact of a failure to diagnose them, and what you can do if you have been a victim of medical negligence.
What are the most common fractures and broken bones in the human body?
The body part that has the most commonly broken bone is between your shoulders, specifically the clavicle – also known as the collarbone. Due to its prominent position at the top of a person’s chest, and because it is relatively thin, the bone will often fracture as a result of a fall, or injuries sustained in contact sports.
The arm is also particularly at risk of bone breaks. Again, this often occurs because of a fall and is very common in young children.
Other common fractures include to the wrist, such as the scaphoid bone, which is a typical injury of those who fall while skateboarding, skiing or taking part in other sports. Stress fractures are also common – these are small breaks in bones within the foot and ankle that are caused by repetitive movements.
Hip breaks, while also common, tend to affect older people who have developed degenerative conditions, such as osteoporosis.
What causes a fracture?
Bones are built to withstand a substantial level of force, however, there is a breaking point – which is when a fracture will occur.
Typical fractures include greenstick, spinal, comminuted, transverse and compound. These describe the location and nature of the fracture.
Older people with brittle bones or degenerative conditions may suffer breaks more easily than other people.
How long does it take for a fracture to heal?
Most broken bones will heal within six to eight weeks. However, the healing process may take longer if the injury is more severe, such as compound fractures, which can lead to the bone breaking through the skin.
The recovery period will also tend to be longer the older you get, and this can be exacerbated if you have a degenerative condition, such as osteoporosis.
What happens if a fracture is misdiagnosed?
If a fracture is misdiagnosed, or the diagnosis has been delayed because of medical negligence, you may develop avoidable complications and severe pain. We have supported many people with orthopaedic injuries and scaphoid fractures where a failure to diagnose the injury correctly has caused significant issues later on.