Fracture (Broken Bone)

Fracture (Broken Bone)

A fracture is a break, typically in a bone. Fractures are common, and are usually caused by trauma during falls, car accidents, or sports injuries. Fractures are also common in patients suffering from osteoporosis, which causes weakening of the bones. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called a compound, or open fracture. Closed, or simple fractures, do not puncture the skin. Overuse during sports or other activities can cause stress fractures, which are tiny cracks in the bone.


  • Intense pain in the afflicted area
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Immobility or limited mobility to move a limb
  • Misshapen limb or joint, out–of-place appearance
  • Bruising, swelling, or bleeding

Who is at risk?

  • Anyone who has suffered severe trauma to a limb
  • Patients with osteoporosis, which causes weakening of the bones
  • Those who partake in long term, strenuous activities are at risk for stress fractures

Treatment of Condition

Following diagnosis of the fracture as a complete or partial break, treatment is focused upon realigning the ends of the bones to help it recover its strength, mobility, and sensitivity fully. Often you will need to wear a cast or splint to keep the bone in place while it heals, but in some cases surgery to insert plates or screws to keep the bone in place is necessary. Treatment varies widely depending on the severity and location of the break. Compound or open fractures usually require antibiotics to ensure the bone does not get infected (osteomyelitis). After the limb has been cast and set properly, it is very important to avoid activity or stress to the limb, as it could cause the break not to heal properly.

When should I see a doctor?

Seek medical attention if you injure yourself and believe you may have broken a bone. Only an X-ray will determine if your injury is simply a bruise or sprain, or something more serious. Mountain Lakes Medical Center has an on-site X-ray machine for ruling out fractures, which will guide in the appropriate treatment of your injury.

For more information on broken bones, see the following websites:

Medline Plus (NIH) Fractures (Broken Bones) Page

Introduction to Fractures from the Merck Online Medical Library

Understanding Fractures – Basic Information from WebMD

Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.