Fracture of Bone

A broken bone or bone fracture (break and a fracture mean the same thing) is usually caused by abnormal violence, pressure, force, or twisting being applied to a bone.

Bone Fracture – Types

There are several different types of fracture (see diagram below):-

Illustration showing types of bone fracture - transverse, linear, oblique, spiral, greenstick, comminuted

  • Hair line fracture – tiny crack part way through a bone
  • Greenstick fracture – abnormal flexion in a child’s soft bone wrinkling one surface only
  • Torus fracture – compression of a long bone in the arm or leg of a child may cause the bone to buckle or twist
  • Simple fracture – a single break across the whole width of a bone
  • Avulsion fracture – a small fragment of bone is pulled off at the point where a muscle, tendon or ligament attaches
  • Impacted fracture – the forcible shortening of a bone as one fragment of bone is pushed into another
  • Comminuted fracture – two, three or more breaks in the one bone
  • Depressed fracture – a piece of bone (often in the skull) is pushed in below the level of the surrounding bone
  • Compound fracture – the skin over the fracture is broken by a bone end
  • Pathological fracture – a break in a bone weakened by osteoporosis, cancer or other disease

Photo showing bruising and bend with fracture of the forearm

Some of these fracture types (eg. simple, comminuted) can be further differentiated into two further categories:-

  • Displaced fracture – the bones on either side of the break are not in their correct alignment.
  • Undisplaced fracture – the bones on either side of the break remain in their correct alignment.

With a fracture, patients experience pain that is worse with use of the bone, swelling and tenderness at the site of the fracture, bruising over or below the fracture, loss of function of the limb or area. Pathological fractures may be relatively pain free in some cases.

Comments are closed