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What is a spiral fracture?

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A spiral fracture is a type of bone fracture where the break twists or spirals around the bone because the bone itself has been twisted, according to Healthline. Spiral fractures can also be displaced or stable, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In a stable fracture, the ends of the fracture line up, while the opposite is true with a displaced fracture.

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Because the ends do not line up, a displaced fracture needs to be repaired through surgery, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

A stable fracture is treated with a splint, a cast or a brace, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Surgery for a displaced spiral fracture includes the placement of nails and rods, plates, screws or pins in the broken bone or screws and bars attached externally.

One unfortunate aspect of a spiral fracture found in a young child is that it is sometimes the result of child abuse, claims the University of California, San Francisco Department of Pediatrics. It happens when a child is violently grabbed by the arm or leg and the appendage is twisted. However, a child who is just learning to walk may also suffer a spiral fracture when she puts her foot down and twists her leg. In fact, spiral fractures of the tibia in children just learning to walk are common enough to be called "toddler's fracture."

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