In a hurry? You won’t have to read past this paragraph. A broken bone and a fracture are the same thing. They are interchangeable terms that both refer to a human bone that’s been shattered – usually because of excessive force.

Medical professionals such as doctors or chiropractors are more likely to call this a fracture than a broken bone. Here’s what you need to know.

Fracture Causes

More than a million people fracture a bone in the United States every year. Bone injuries are commonplace. A fracture occurs when a bone is struck by something stronger than the bone itself. This causes the bone to break. The most common causes of bone fractures are falls, sports injuries, and vehicular accidents.

As we age our bones can become weakened and brittle. The medical term is called osteoporosis, and this is also a frequent and common cause of fractures.

How Do You Know if You Have a Fracture?

Anyone who has ever experienced a bone fracture will tell you that the main sign is the pain. The reason bone fractures are so painful is because the nerve endings that surround bones contain pain fibers. These fibers are responsible for transmitting the sensations of pain to the brain. These fibers are greatly agitated when bone is broken or bruised.

Broken bones also bleed. The blood and associated swelling – which is known as edema – also can cause pain. If you suspect you have a fracture, you should seek professional medical help immediately.

Diagnosing a Fracture

Medical professionals will examine your injury and check for mobility, as well as visible indications of damage to blood vessels or joints. The most common way to diagnose a fracture is with an X-ray of the area.

The description of this fracture often can be confusing to non-medical professionals. The determination is based on the location of the break on the bone itself, as well as how the bone fragments are aligned. Certain complications can also determine what type of fracture the break may be called. If the skin above the bone is ruptured, the description can change again.

A broken bone that pushes through the skin is dangerous because of the potential of infection of the bone. The direction of the fracture and number of pieces of broken bone also determine both what it’s called as well as how it’s treated.

Treating Fractures

Bones are actually able to heal themselves. They can produce new bone tissue to repair the fracture. The new tissue begins to form at the edges of the break, and this tissue begins to knit the broken pieces back together. This new bone tissue is initially soft, so it must be protected.

It’s why most fractured bones are immobilized in either a cast or splint. This helps to keep the bone aligned while it heals. If you break a bone in your finger or toe, the optimal way to immobilize it is with a splint.

Serious fractures may require surgery to realign. Other serious fractures may also need traction, where there’s a gentle pulling on the muscles and tendons surrounding the broken bone to help it remain aligned.

Bone pain of any kind is something you probably won’t be able to ignore. It’s your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right. Ongoing low-level pain in your lower back or neck can be your body’s way of telling you that the bones that make up your spine are not aligned. We can help find the source of the misalignment with a non-invasive procedure called a MyoVision Exam.