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A fracture is a break, usually in a bone. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. Fractures commonly happen because of car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Other causes are low bone density and osteoporosis, which cause weakening of the bones. Overuse can cause stress fractures, which are very small cracks in the bone.
Symptoms of a fracture are
- Intense pain
- Deformity - the limb looks out of place
- Swelling, bruising, or tenderness around the injury
- Numbness and tingling
- Problems moving a limb
You need to get medical care right away for any fracture. An x-ray can tell if your bone is broken. You may need to wear a cast or splint. Sometimes you need surgery to put in plates, pins or screws to keep the bone in place.
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Bone Mass Measurement: What the Numbers Mean (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in Spanish
- Comparing Osteoporosis Drugs: The Bisphosphonates (Consumers Union of U.S.) - PDF
- Once Is Enough: A Guide to Preventing Future Fractures (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
- Preventing Falls and Related Fractures (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
Statistics and Research
- Childhood Forearm Breaks Resulting from Mild Trauma May Indicate Bone Deficits (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Fractures, Bone (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Intramedullary nailing of lateral malleolus in ankle fractures - surgical technique...
- Article: Plate-screw and screw-washer stability in a Schatzker type-I lateral tibial plateau...
- Article: Advances in Minimally Invasive Techniques in Pediatric Orthopedics: Percutaneous Spine Fracture...
- Fractures -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Broken Bones (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)
- Cast Care: Do's and Don'ts (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Cool Cast Facts (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Facts about Broken Bones (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Greenstick Fractures (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Growth Plate Injuries (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in Spanish
- When Your Child Needs a Cast (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish