Nasal fracture which is also known as a broken nose is the most basic type of facial fracture. This could be due to the fact that the nose is the most prominent of the facial features.
Nasal fracture is a term that has been generally used to describe a crack or break in the nasal bones. The fracture generally happens at the bridge of the nose where the two nasal bones join together.
The rest of the nose, the septum, nostrils, and area below the bridge is supported by cartilage, which extends from just below the bridge to the tip.
Causes of Nasal Fracture
Trauma to the bridge of the nose is responsible for most nasal fractures. Broken noses in adults sometimes occur as a result of the following:
- Fist fights
- Sports injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
Nasal fractures in children are generally caused due to sports injuries or accidents that happen at the time of play. The injury can also be caused due to physical abuse.
Diagnosis of Nasal Fracture
Most of the nasal fractures can be diagnosed through physical examination. A local anesthetic can be used to make the check-up more comfortable. If injuries are extensive or pain is severe, CT (computerized tomography) can be used.
In cases where there is a large amount of swelling, patients may be ordered to raise the head and apply ice until the swelling is reduced to ensure a more accurate diagnosis.
Symptoms of Nasal Fracture
Typical symptoms of nasal fracture include:
- Nose bleed
- Bruising around the nose or eye (black eye)
- Bent, crooked or misshapen nose
- Nasal stuffiness due to blocked nasal passages
- Difficulty in breathing through the nose
- Crepitus (a crinkling or grating sound heard when the nose is moved)
Treatment of Nasal Fracture
Intermittent application of ice along with over-the-counter pain medications can be prescribed for the treatment of pain and swelling. This can be the only treatment required in simple fractures with no dislocation or complications.
If the bone or cartilage requires adjustment, realignment can be done manually. Splints or nasal packing can be needed after the manual realignment. Manual realignment should be done within 14 days of the injury.
It is important that the adjustment only be done by a qualified physician, never by the patient. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.
More severe nasal fractures may require surgery to realign the nose or repair the septum.