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Broken Bones


A broken bone, also known as a fracture occurs when a force against a bone is stronger than it can withstand.  Broken bones commonly occur as a result of a falls, often during play, sports or as a result of frailty.



Common symptoms often include:

  • swelling and pain around the injured area,
  • hearing a snap during the injury,
  • not being able to move the limb or put any weight on it, or
  • the area appearing deformed.



There are different types of breaks that can occur and occasionally it may be difficult to diagnose. The bone doesn’t have to necessarily break into two distinct pieces to be diagnosed as a ‘break’ or ‘fracture’. The most common sites for breaks are the wrist, ankle and hip.


Some of the most common types of breaks include:

  • Transverse fracture – what is commonly thought of as a ‘break’, a straight break across the bone
  • Longitudinal fracture – when the bone break is along the length of the bone
  • Impacted fracture – when part of the bone breaks and pushes into another bone
  • Stress fracture – when a bone breaks as a result of repeated stress
  • Compression fracture – occurs when the spongy bone in the spine is compressed as a result of osteoporosis
  • Comminuted fracture – when the bone is shattered into many pieces
  • Greenstick fracture – when part of the bone bends while the other side breaks.



The most important part of treating broken bones is to immobilize the injury. If bleeding is present, clean the wound and dress appropriately. If there are any bones protruding from the skin, the paramedics should be called as soon as possible.


Broken bones are usually treated using a splint or a cast, but depending upon the severity and location, may need pins, screws and/or surgery. Your health care professional will be able to diagnose the seriousness of the break through an x-ray and then decide on the best treatment option. If the bone needs to be realigned, sedation may be required in order to reduce any pain during the procedure.


Depending on the type and severity of the injury, healing times will vary. Most fractures can heal in three to eight weeks. Care should be taken once the cast has been removed for the next month or so.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.