What is a Fracture?

A "fracture" is another word for a broken bone. There are different types of fractures. The type of fracture depends on which bone breaks and how it breaks.

What are the symptoms of a fracture?

  • Pain

  • Bruising

  • Swelling (edema)

  • Trouble walking

  • Change in shape of the toe/foot/ankle

How are fractures treated?

Treatment depends on the type of fracture and how severe it is. The first step is diagnosing, which is done with a physical exam of the area, X-ray, and possibly a CT/MRI. Once the diagnosis is made treatment typically involves the following:

  • Resting

  • Ice to the area 15 minutes at a time per hour that you are awake. Place a thin towel between the ice and the skin.

  • Elevating - the more swelling that occurs, the more pain you feel. Keeping your leg elevated will help to reduce the amount of swelling that occurs so you can feel better and heal faster.

  • Immobilization- depending on the type and location of the fracture, a surgical shoe, CAM walker, cast or splint may be applied. This is will help the bone heal in the appropriate position.

  • Pain reduction- this includes over the counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve).

  • Surgery- severe fractures that are displaced (no longer in proper alignment) may require surgery.

How long does it take for bones to heal?

Bones take 6-8 weeks on average to heal, depending on the type of fracture. Healing time also depends on the person; children who are healthy tend to heal faster than older adults with medical problems and those who smoke.

How can I improve the healing process?

  • Eat a healthy diet- Make sure you are getting enough Calcium, Vitamin D and protein

  • Avoid excessive pressure- Your doctor will instruct you on how much activity is permitted

  • Stop smoking- Fractures take loner to heal in people smoke

  • Reduce pressure to the area- This can be done with protective footwear and changes in activity