A fracture is a broken bone. A bone/bones may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways including crosswise, lengthwise or in multiple pieces.
Bone is mostly made of collagen, a protein that is woven into a flexible framework. Bone also contains calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, minerals that add strength and harden the framework. The combination of calcium and collagen gives the bone its strength and flexibility. Bones are rigid, but they do bend or “give” a little when an outside force is applied. However, if the force is too great, the bones will break.
The severity of a fracture generally depends on the force that caused the break. If the bone’s breaking point has been exceeded only slightly, then the bone may crack rather than break all the way through. If the force is extreme, such as in an automobile accident or a gunshot, the bone may shatter.
If the bone breaks in such a way that bone fragments stick out through the skin, or a wound penetrates down to the broken bone, the fracture is referred to as an “open” fracture. This type of fracture is serious because once the skin is broken, infection in both the wound and the bone can occur.