What is a buckle fracture?

Written by nicole long
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Though not the most common fracture, buckle fractures, also known as torus fractures, are most often seen in young and elderly patients. Although buckle fractures can occur in any bone, the most common bones that sustain this type of injury are the long bones of the body. This can include the radius, ulna, humerus or femur. Though painful, recovery from a buckle fracture is remarkably quick when compared to the healing time for other fractures, where recovery can take months.

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Definition

The word torus is derived from the Latin word tori, which indicates a protuberance or swelling. When a buckle fracture occurs, the actual bone itself doesn't break. The inner cortex on the compression side of the bone buckles in against the opposite side of the bone. This is indicated by a fracture on the side of the compression. This can cause swelling and pain.

Causes

Fractures can occur due to a variety of mechanisms. They may result from a sudden trauma or fall, or the cause may be related to disease, such as cancer. The tendency of people to put their arm out to break a fall is a main cause of a buckle break in bones, as typically seen in the radius and ulna specifically. A buckle break can also be caused by a blunt force trauma or accident, though this is less likely.

Risk Factors

Buckle breaks tend to occur in the young and elderly. The increased risk to young people is due to the fact that their bones are still soft and are more likely to buckle due to flexibility. For the elderly, osteoporosis can cause an increased risk factor for any fracture. Proper nutrition is key in both populations to ensure bone health and strength.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the buckle fracture is made based on an x-ray. The x-ray should visibly show that one side of the bone has buckled against the other without causing a complete break. Buckle fractures sometimes are confused with greenstick fractures, which result from the same impact but break on the opposite side of compression and not completely through.

Treatment

Treatment of a buckle fracture usually requires a soft cast. This serves to both promote healing by keeping the bone stable and reduce swelling to relieve pain. With proper treatment a buckle, or torus, fracture should heal within three weeks. Return to activity should always be cleared by a doctor.

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