Broken Bones

Broken bones, or fractures, are common. They happen when the physical force exerted on the bone is stronger than the bone itself.

There are many types of broken bones, including displaced, non-displaced, open and closed. In some cases, the bone may not break at all, but merely bend. This is called a greenstick fracture (which is more common in children). Displaced and non-displaced fractures refer to the way the bone breaks. In a displaced fracture, the bone snaps into two or more parts and moves so that the two ends are not lined up straight. If the bone is in many pieces, it is called a comminuted fracture. In a non-displaced fracture, the bone breaks, but maintains its proper alignment. A closed fracture means the bone breaks, but there is no puncture or open wound in the skin. An open fracture occurs when the bone breaks through the skin. With an open fracture, there is a risk of a deep bone infection. A simple fracture is a closed non-displaced break.

The collarbone, arm, wrist, hip and ankle are commonly broken bones. Symptoms of a fracture include swelling, bruising, pain and loss of function in the injured area. Swelling usually occurs quickly. An X-ray is commonly used to diagnose a broken bone. Proper splinting or immobilization can help minimize pain and long-term effects. Treatment includes rest, ice and compression. Elevation helps decrease pain and can speed healing. Ibuprofen can help decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Other pain relievers may be prescribed if needed.