Broken Bones

What causes bones to break?

From the crunch of a sports injury to an accidental fall, people break bones in all kinds of ways – usually from some sort of impact. Bones are strong and even have some give to them, but they have their limits, too. They can even bleed after a serious break. Diseases like cancer and osteoporosis can also lead to breaks because they make your bones weaker and more fragile.

What kind of break?

Doctors talk about broken bones, also called fractures, with a few basic terms:

  • Open or closed? Closed, or simple, fractures don’t break through the skin. Open, or compound, ones do.
  • Partial or complete? Partial breaks don’t go all the way through the bone. Complete breaks mean the bone is in two or more pieces.
  • Displaced or non-displaced? If the broken pieces still line up, it’s a non-displaced break. If they don’t, it’s displaced.

What it feels like: pain

Sometimes, kids get small fractures and don’t even know it. Other times, your body may be in shock so you don’t feel anything at all – at first. But usually a broken bone means a deep, intense ache. And depending on the break, you may feel sharp pain, too.

What it feels like: other symptoms

Aside from pain, your body sets off all kinds of alarms to tell you something’s really wrong. You might feel chilly, dizzy, or woozy. You might even pass out.  Around the break itself, you might notice:

  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Weakness

You may also have trouble using that body part or see that the bone doesn’t look right – like it’s bent at an odd angle.