broken bone or fractureFractures, medically defined as a broken bone, are incredibly common - in fact, the average person has two in their lifetime. Fractures, or broken bones, occur when the physical force exerted on the bone is stronger than the bone itself can support. 

This can mean that the force was either of very high energy or that the bone was weak. In addition, broken bones can happen when there is too much repeated stress on a bones. These types of fractures are called stress fractures.

Fracture versus Break

While many people believe a fracture is just a "hairline break", or even a certain type of broken bone, the truth is that broken bones and fractures are really just the same thing. 

Many physicians use these words interchangeably, and while there are many different types of broken bones and fractures, fracture and break are synonymous and both refer to the normal bone structure being disrupted.

Symptoms of a Broken Bone

  • Painful to touch or move
  • Swelling/deformity
  • Unable to move normally
  • Feels bones grating
  • Heard a pop or snap
  • Injured area is cold, numb, and tingly
  • Bone fragments sticking out of a wound

Who is Prone to Fractures?

As previously mentioned, repetitive stress on a bone can cause a stress fracture. Consider bending a paper clip - when bent back and forth in a repetitive motion it will eventually break. Stress fractures typically occur in athletes, like long distance runners.

Some cancer patients incur pathological fractures due to weakened bones. These can happen with little or no trauma. 

Patients with osteoporosis, a disorder in which bones lose strength as they age, are more susceptible to fractures, especially in the hip, wrist, and spine.

Is My Bone Broken?

If you believe you or a loved one have a broken bone: 

  • Control any bleeding
  • Immobilize injured area in the position it was found
  • Apply ice
  • Elevate (only if it does not cause more pain)
  • Seek immediate medical attention

Your physician will determine whether or not you have a broken bone by examining the injury and taking X-rays. If your X-ray does not show a fracture, your physician may perform other imaging like an MRI or CT scan.

Treatment for Broken Bones

Once a fracture has been identified, your physician will determine the appropriate treatment depending on the type of fracture, the location of the fracture and your individual needs.

Typical treatment options for a broken bone include:

  • Casts
  • Splints
  • If necessary, surgery

Find Personalized Care

The team of physicians, orthopedic surgeons, therapists, and trainers at Memorial Hermann treat a variety of orthopedic injuries, allowing the active patient to return to their desired activity level in a safe, effective, and timely manner. For more information on available treatment options, physical therapy, or human performance services, fill out the form below.

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