Skip to main content

A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. When a fracture happens, it’s classified as either open or closed:

  • Open Fracture: The bone pokes through the skin and can be seen, or a deep wound exposes the bone through the skin.
  • Closed Fracture: The bone is broken, but the skin is intact.

What Causes Fractures?

Fractures most often happen when more force is applied to the bone than it can withstand. Bones are weakest when they are twisted. Common causes of fractures include:

  • Falls
  • Trauma or direct blow to the body
  • Overuse or repetitive motions leading to stress fractures, common in athletes
  • Diseases that weaken the bone, such as osteoporosis or cancer

Symptoms of a Fracture

Each person may experience symptoms differently, but the most common symptoms of a fracture include:

  • Swelling or bruising over a bone
  • Deformity of an arm or leg
  • Pain in the injured area that worsens with movement or pressure
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected foot, ankle, or leg
  • Loss of function in the injured area
  • Bone protruding from the skin in open fractures

The symptoms of a broken bone may resemble other medical conditions. Always see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a Fracture Diagnosed?

To diagnose a fracture, a healthcare provider will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • X-ray: Uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make pictures of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: An imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body, showing details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.

When to Seek Medical Attention

You should see a healthcare provider any time you suspect a broken bone. Fractures can be a medical emergency, especially if they involve the bones of the spine. Injuries to the spine can cause severe back pain and nerve problems, including numbness, tingling, weakness, or bowel/bladder issues. Call 911 if you suspect a spinal fracture.

At Ally Medical Emergency Rooms, our team of experienced physicians is equipped to diagnose and treat fractures promptly and effectively. If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of a fracture, visit one of our eight locations for immediate care.