Fractured means broken. Whether you have a complete or a partial fracture, you have a broken bone. A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways (cross-wise, lengthwise, in the middle).

Fractures can happen in a variety of ways, but there are three common causes:

  • Trauma accounts for most fractures.
  • Osteoporosis also can contribute to fractures.
  • Overuse sometimes results in stress fractures. These are common among athletes.

Usually, you will know immediately if you have broken a bone. You may hear a snap or cracking sound. The area around the fracture will be tender and swollen. A limb may be deformed, or a part of the bone may puncture through the skin.

The Orthopaedic Institute of Henderson usually uses an X-ray to verify the diagnosis. Stress fractures are more difficult to diagnose, because they may not immediately appear on an X-ray; however, there may be pain, tenderness and mild swelling.

Fractures take several weeks to several months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well you follow your doctor's advice. Pain usually stops long before the fracture is solid enough to handle the stresses of normal activity.

Even after your cast or brace is removed, you may need to continue limiting your
activity until the bone is solid enough to use in normal activity.

Usually, by the time the bone is strong enough, the muscles will be weak because
they have not been used. Your ligaments may feel "stiff" from not using them.

You will need a period of rehabilitation that involves exercises and gradually
increasing activity before those tissues will perform their functions normally
and the healing process is complete.