Bone fracture overview, causes, symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and prevention


Bone fracture is the most common bone diseases in the world. What’s interesting is everyone must suffer from this disease once or twice in their whole life. In this article, we will explain some important knowledge about the bone fracture.

Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Types | Examination | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention | Recovery | Outlook


Bone fracture is a continuous structure of bone break apart completely or partially by mechanical compression or trauma from outside of the body or pathological bone diseases such as osteoporosis, bone tumor, metastatic diseases from inside of the body. this bone disease is more common in children and the elderly. But sometimes also occurred in the young population.

Bone fracture overview, causes, symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, prevention and outlook
Bone fracture overview, causes, symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, prevention and outlook


There are three main bone fracture causes:

1.Direct violence.

The violence direct effect on a part of the skeleton and caused the fracture. It is often with the different degree of soft tissue injury. If the wheel hits the shins, the shaft fracture occurs at the impact area of the tibia and fibula.

2. Indirect violence.

bone fracture occurs by indirect violence such as longitudinal conduction, leverage effects or reverse effects. When you fall from high to the ground with your feet, trunk kinking forward sharply due to gravity, the thoracolumbar junction of vertebral compression or burst fracture will occur.

3. Accumulation of slight injury.

The long-term accumulation of strain, direct or indirect injury slightly and repeatedly can cause a particular part of the bone fracture in the body. This condition also is known as fatigue fracture. Such as long distance walking causes the fracture of second and third metatarsal bone and lower one-third of the fibula.


As you see in the following picture, there are many types of fracture. The bone fracture can be divided into many types according to their anatomical shape, a degree of severity and stability, with or without an open wound, pathophysiological condition and so on.

7 Types of fractures according to the anatomical shape
7 Types of fractures according to the anatomical shape

2 main Types of fractures according to the degree of severity.

  1. Complete fracture
  2. Incomplete fracture

7 Types of fractures according to the anatomical shape.

  1. Transverse fracture
  2. Oblique fracture
  3. Spiral fracture
  4. Comminuted fracture
  5. Greenstick fracture
  6. Linear Fracture
  7. Stellate fracture

2 types according to whether the fractures area is open or not.

  1. Open fracture
  2. Closed fracture

2 types of fractures according to the degree of stability.

  1. Displaced fracture
  2. Non-displaced fracture

2 types of fractures according to the pathophysiology condition of the bone before fracture.

  1. Traumatic fracture
  2. Pathological fracture

For more detail about types of fractures, please check the following articles.


There are two main bone fracture symptoms categories in it.

Systemic symptoms

  1. Shock: It is often caused by extensive soft tissue injuries, massive bleeding, severe pain or complicated visceral injuries. Examples are multiple fractures, pelvic fractures, femur fractures, spinal fractures, and severe open fractures.
  2. Fever: There is a slight fever when there is a large amount of internal bleeding in the fracture, but it generally does not exceed 38 ℃. The possibility of infection complications should be considered when the open fracture with elevated temperature.

Local symptoms

  1. Appearance deformity.
  2. abnormal movement.
  3. bony crepitus.
  4. Local fever.
  5. swelling.
  6. pain.
  7. Redish.


The most common method of inspection is an X-ray. However, CT and MRI can be used in cases where the diagnosis is difficult.

X-ray is the most ideal test, cheap and highly sensitive. Radiation is much lower than CT and MRI. (Thank’s to X-ray inventor German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen )

Radius bone fracture on x-ray
Radius bone fracture on x-ray


Most of the bone fracture cases can be diagnosed or excluded according to clinical manifestation and imaging examination.


The ultimate goal of fracture treatment is to maximize the recovery of fractured organs function.

Reduction: is the realignment of the site of the fracture parts to restore the support function of the bone.

Fixation: after fracture reduction, it is easy to relocate because of instability. Therefore, different methods should be used to fix it in a satisfactory position so that it can heal smoothly. The commonly used fixation methods are the small splint, plaster bandage, external fixation support, traction fixation and so on. These fixation methods are called external fixation. Internal fixation is performed by surgical methods with steel plate, steel needle, intramedullary needle, screw, and others.

Functional exercise: The main purpose of the orthopedic functional exercise is to reduce muscle atrophy, increase blood circulation and prevent joint adhesion. This will quickly heal the injured area to the normal function before the fracture.


The recovery time varies depending on the bone fracture parts and types of fractures. Recovery time is also closely related to patient age, nutrition, and treatment. For example, the recovery of fractures in the elderly is much longer than in the young. Comminuted fracture recovery time is also much longer than other types.


  1. Prevention of osteoporosis in the elderly is equal to the prevention of fractures.
  2. Children are also fracture-prone groups, so the prevention of fractures in children also need more attention. Our another article is a good explanation of how to prevent infantile fractures.
  3. Pay more attention to safety when exercising.
  4. Check for vitamin D and calcium levels in the body to avoid fragile bone. If the level of these elements is very low in the body, it is easy to fracture occurs. So you must take some vitamin D supplements and calcium supplement under doctor advice.

For more detail about bone fracture prevention, please check the following articles.


With the improvement of people’s quality of life and knowledge, bone fracture treatment and prognosis are greatly improved. After appropriate treatment in a short time, most of the patient can recover the original function of bone. But there are still some varying degrees of the sequel has left with a small number of the patients.




Write and Review

  • Written by Nurmemet, MD (Emergency Medicine Specialist)
  • Medically reviewed by Merhaba, MD (Pediatrician)


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