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Bones are rigid, but they do bend or “give” somewhat when an outside force is applied. However, if the force is too great, the bones will break—just as a plastic ruler breaks when it is bent too far.
The severity of a fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break. The vast majority of broken bones result from traumatic events, such as falls, sports injuries and motor vehicle collisions. Conditions like osteoporosis or cancer can predispose individuals to a fracture or bone trauma, too.
Common types of fractures include:
Proper diet and exercise may help in preventing some fractures. A diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D will promote bone strength, too. Weight-bearing exercises also help to keep bones strong.
The symptoms of broken bones can vary depending on the type of fracture, but commonly include pain (can be extreme), numbness, swelling and bruising, weakness or stiffness, decreased sensation and movement, and possibly an open wound or deformity.
Your doctor will do a careful examination to assess your overall condition, as well as the extent of the injury. He or she will talk with you about how the injury occurred, your symptoms, and medical history. Then, to evaluate a fracture, your physician will order X-rays, which provide clear images of the bone. X-rays can show whether a bone is intact or broken. They can also show the type of fracture and exactly where it is located within the bone.
Injuries can vary greatly from one to the next. The severity and location dictate the urgency of care and type of treatments that are required. Treatment options include ice and elevation, use of medication to minimize pain and inflammation, setting the bone by splinting or casting, immobilization (such as by using a sling), surgery, joint replacement, and physical therapy.For more severe breaks, surgery could involve inserting rods or screws to maintain proper alignment of the bone during healing. Some breaks might have damaged an artery, blood vessels or affected nerves, which would require further treatment.