How to Tell if Your Bone is Broken

How to Tell if Your Bone is Broken

What Does a Bone Fracture Feel Like?

A broken bone, also called a fracture, is when a break goes through part or all of a bone. There are many different types of fractures, which can cause a variety of symptoms in these parts of your body:

• Arm. Pain, swelling, abnormal bend, difficulty using or moving arm, warmth, bruising, or redness.
• Elbow. Pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, a “pop” noise at the time of fracture, or visible deformity.
• Wrist. Pain, swelling, decreased use of wrist and hand, a crooked or deformed appearance, and unable to hold a grip.
• Hand. Pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, stiffness, and weakness.
• Finger. Pain, swelling, unable to move a finger, a shortened finger, or a depressed knuckle.
• Leg. Severe pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, obvious deformity, and the inability to walk.
• Knee. Pain, swelling, inability to straighten the knee, and the inability to walk.
• Ankle. Severe pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, bruising, deformity, and the inability to walk.
• Foot. Severe pain, swelling, bruising, numbness in toes and foot, decreased range of motion, inability to walk comfortably, and visible deformity.
• Toe. Pain, swelling, discoloration, and bruising. You should be able to walk, but not comfortably.

Common Types of Bone Fractures

Common fractures have a variety of names including:

• Greenstick. This is an incomplete fracture where the bone isn’t completely separated.
• Transverse. A transverse fracture is when the break is in a straight line across the bone.
• Spiral. The break spirals around the bone, which is common in a twisting injury.
• Oblique. This is a diagonal break across the bone.
• Compression. This when the bone is crushed, causing the broken bone to be wider or flatter in appearance.
• Comminuted. The break is in three or more pieces and fragments are present at the fracture site.
• Segmental. The same bone is fractured in two places, causing a floating segment of bone.

What Bones Do People Break Most?

Breaking bones happens to people of all ages, but there are breaks that are more common in children and breaks that happen more among adults and seniors. Treatment and recovery times vary on the type of fracture. Here are some of the most common bone fractures, how they happen, and what can be done to treat them.

• Collarbone fracture. The collarbone, or clavicle, is one of the most frequently broken bones. It’s the most common type of fracture for children and teens. For seniors, collarbone fractures usually occur after a hard fall. Treatment may involve keeping your arm in a sling while the break heals. A severe collarbone fracture may require surgery. Physical therapy can help improve stiffness and shoulder movement after a collarbone fracture.
• Wrist fracture. Any time we fall, it’s common to catch yourself by putting out your hands. Unfortunately, the result can be a broken wrist. Car accidents, sports injuries, and falls can cause these breaks. A splint, cast, or surgery are the most common treatments for a wrist fracture.
• Ankle fracture. Broken bones in the ankle are common, especially for middle-aged people. Falls, car accidents, and any injury that twists or rolls the ankle can cause a fracture. In some cases, it’s still possible to walk with a broken ankle, but you may need a supportive shoe or cast. You may also need surgery. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises are an important part of recovery.
• Vertebral fracture. The vertebrae are the bones that surround your spinal cord and protect it from injury. Vertebral fractures are the most common breaks for those with osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. It can also happen to healthy people, usually in an accident or a hard fall. Mild vertebral fractures usually get better with rest. Severe fractures may require surgery.
• Hip fracture. Broken hips are most common among older people and are one of the most serious fractures in seniors. Broken hips normally are the result of a fall, landing on the hip, or having something hit the hip hard can also cause a fracture. Surgery can help a fractured hip heal faster. If surgery isn’t possible, bed rest can also help. Physical therapy can help improve stiffness and help you get back to walking again.
• Forearm fracture. The most common arm bones broken in both children and adults are the radius and ulna in the lower arm. Depending on the severity of the break, you may need surgery to treat the broken bone. You may also need a cast or brace to help keep the arm still during recovery.
• Shinbone fracture. It’s very hard to fracture the long bones in your body because it takes a lot of force. This could happen from a car accident. You may need a splint, brace, cast, or surgery to treat a broken shinbone. You may also need to use crutches or a walker while you recover.

How Do You Treat a Bone Fracture?

If you think you may have a fractured bone, it’s important to see a medical professional as soon as possible. To learn more about bone fracture healing or to schedule an appointment, visit us at Baptist Health Urgent Care.


This article is intended to inform readers about injuries to extremities, which are often caused by falls, accidents or other events. These events can also cause multiple traumas, including possible abdominal, neck, spine, or head injuries. If you expect any of those injuries seek medical attention and do not attempt to move a person with suspected neck or spine injuries.

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