The signs of a fracture depend on the type of break an the bone affected. It always
hurts to break a bone. There also might be swelling and bruising. The injured area
may be hard to move and use.
Sometimes there's a deformity — this means that the body part looks crooked or
different than it did before the injury.
How Are Broken Bones Diagnosed?
Doctors order X-rays if they think
a bone is broken. An X-ray usually can show if there is a break, where it is, and
the type of break.
How Are Broken Bones Treated?
Doctors treat most broken bones with a cast,
splint, or brace. This keeps the broken
bone from moving while it heals. Even broken bones that don't line up (called displaced)
often will heal straight over time.
Sometimes the displaced bones are put back in place before the cast, splint, or
brace is put on. This is done through a procedure called a reduction. This
is also called "setting the bone."
The two types of reductions are:
A closed reduction. This is done in the emergency room or operating
room, after the person gets medicine to ease the pain. The surgeon moves the bones
back into the right position. No incision (cut) is needed.
An open reduction. This surgery is done for a more complicated
injury. It happens in the operating room under general
anesthesia. The surgeon makes a cut and moves the bones into the right position.
Surgical plates, screws, or wires might keep the bones in place.
How Do Bones Heal?
In the first few days after a fracture, the body forms a blood clot (or
) around the broken bone. This protects the bone and delivers the cells
needed for healing.
Then, an area of healing
tissue forms around the broken bone. This is called a . It joins the broken bones together. It's soft at first, then
gets harder and stronger over the following weeks.
New bone forms in the weeks to months after a break, but full healing can take
follow the health care provider's directions for rest and/or doing any exercises
go to all follow-up appointments
Broken bones are a pretty common injury. With the right treatment, a broken bone
usually heals well. Follow your health care provider's recommendations, and soon you'll
be back to all the activities you did before the injury.