A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. When a fracture happens, it’s classified as either open or closed:
Fractures have a variety of names. Here is a listing of the common types that may happen:
Fractures most often happen when more force is applied to the bone than the bone can take. Bones are weakest when they are twisted.
Bone fractures can be caused by falls, trauma, or as a result of a direct blow or kick to the body.
Overuse or repetitive motions can tire muscles and put more pressure on the bone. This causes stress fractures. This is more common in athletes.
Fractures can also be caused by diseases that weaken the bone, such as osteoporosis or cancer in the bones.
The following are the most common symptoms of a fracture. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of a broken or fractured bone may include:
The symptoms of a broken bone may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history (including asking how the injury happened) and physical exam, tests used for a fracture may include the following:
The goal of treatment is to put the pieces of bone back in place, control the pain, give the bone time to heal, prevent complications, and restore normal use of the fractured area.
Treatment may include:
Fractures can take months to heal as broken bones “knit” back together when new bone is formed between the broken parts.
Most fractures are caused by accidents, such as falls, or other injuries. But there are some things you may be able to do to decrease your risk of bone fractures, for instance:
You should see a healthcare provider any time you think you may have a broken bone.
An open fracture (one in which the bone comes through the skin so you can see it or a deep wound that exposes the bone through the skin) is considered an emergency. Get medical attention right away for this type of fracture.
Any injury to the bones of the spine is also a medical emergency. These cause severe back pain and may cause nerve problems. These include numbness, tingling, weakness, or bowel/bladder problems. Call 911 if you suspect a person has a break in the bones of their spine.