When ranking the severity of injuries a person might suffer in a major motor vehicle collision, broken bones likely wind up somewhere in the middle of the list. After all, they are painful injuries that may require surgery or physical therapy, but they don’t inspire nearly as much fear in people as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, both of which may have life-altering consequences.

However, broken bones or fractures are far from being minor, easily dismissible injuries. They can have lasting consequences on someone’s quality of life and their ability to both care for themselves and continue working a job. Different kinds of fractures can carry different consequences and risks for people after a car crash.

A simple fracture is the easiest to heal from and treat

When you only break your bone in one place, medical professionals may call the resulting fracture a simple fracture. Ideally, it is also a stable fracture, meaning the broken ends of the bone continue to properly line up after the break. While you will likely require diagnostic imaging and a cast during recovery, such fractures are typically the easiest for patients and medical professionals to handle.

Compound fractures result in blood loss and infection risk

Sometimes, the injury that breaks a bone also forces it through the surrounding tissue, resulting in substantial trauma. The compound fracture involves an injury where the bone gets pushed through muscle tissue and skin. Not only can compound fractures bleed substantially, but they can also result in increased risk for infection due to the breaking of the skin.

Spiral or torsion fractures often require surgery

Different kinds of force can create different kinds of breaks in the bone. Direct, lateral pressure will usually produce a simple or compound fracture with a transverse or oblique break across the bone.

Twisting or rotating pressure can result in a so-called spiral fracture. Spiral fractures are often comminuted fractures that produce three or more pieces per affected bone. In a spiral fracture, the surface of the broken bones may be uneven and there may be multiple breaks, possibly with bone pieces moving away from their natural placement in the process. Such serious fractures often require surgery, reinforcement and care long after the initial injury.