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Symptoms and Signs of Bone Fracture (Broken Bone)

Doctor's Notes on Bone Fracture (Broken Bone)

The term bone fracture and/or broken bone means that a bone is damaged enough to consider it not to be intact. Signs and symptoms of a bone fracture are usually pain, swelling and inflammation especially at the site where the bone is broken. Sometimes the pain from a bone fracture may be referred (for example, hip fractures may cause knee pain. Some patients develop numbness and tingling. Additional signs and symptoms may occur depending upon which bone is fractured and what type of fracture has occurred. There are many examples; compression fractures, open fractures (broken bone protrudes through the skin), greenstick (partial) fractures, skull fractures, rib fractures, and many others. Growth plate fractures (Salter-Harris fractures) in children can result in misalignment during healing. Usually, signs and symptoms of bone fractures relate to not only the bone fracture itself, but to nerves, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs adjacent to or involved with whatever caused the fracture.

Fractures occur because the bone cannot withstand an outside force placed on it by such common forces encountered in accidental trauma like falls, or intentional trauma like being hit with a bat. Other causes are due to compression or twisting forces. Gunshot and/or shrapnel can cause bone loss in the fracture. Contributing factors that can cause or increase risk for bone fractures include bone cancers, bone cysts, bone infections, heredity and metabolic conditions that influence calcium levels.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.