Fracture vs. Break

By Nikki Clayton, PT, DPT, ATC

Did I Break My Arm or Fracture It?

If you have asked yourself this question, you aren’t the only one. People often get confused by the terminology used by physicians when describing a fracture of the bone. The honest truth, a fracture is a broken bone, and a broken bone is a fracture. In other words, they mean the same thing.

Arm with Hematoma

Fracture vs. Break – Injured Athletes Arm

Overview of Fractures

Your doctor will often use the terms fracture and break interchangeably. Both of these words mean that the normal bone structure has been changed, compromised or disrupted. Fractures are caused by many various reasons, which are broadly described as traumatic and pathological in nature. Traumatic fractures are commonly due to a forceful trauma, typically due to some sort of impact or fall. Pathological fractures are usually due to a condition such as osteoporosis that weakens the structure of the bone.

Diagnosis of Fractures

The diagnosis of fractures/breaks are through imagining techniques. X-ray is the most common method of determining a fracture. In some cases, CT scans must be used to determine a fracture due to location, the type of fracture or the nature of the bone which is involved. If you suspect a broken bone, it is best you see a physician at the earliest convenience due to long-term complications, such as nonunion (permanent failure of healing following a broken bone), delayed (a fracture that takes longer than usual to heal) or mal union (a fracture that has healed in a less than optimal position).

To read about stress fractures, please go to what is a stress fracture.

Treatment by JOI for Fractures

The treatment of fractures varies depending on type, location and the preference of treatment of the MD. Typically, treatment of fractures are through immobilization of the bone and approximation. Approximation is necessary to ensure facilitation of satisfactory healing. Immobilization varies from a hard cast, a soft splint, a removable splint and many other options. Consult your MD or any of our well qualified orthopedic specialists at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute if you are concerned of a fracture.

Some fractures need to be stabilized by surgery.  It important to make sure that your fractured bones heals in the correct way.  There are several different types of fractures and not all bones heal the same way.

Fractured Forearm on X-ray

x-ray film of a fracture to the forearm

JOI Rehab

Whether you are suffering from arm issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!


JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. Furthermore, this is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. Also, To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

By: Nikki Clayton, PT, DPT, ATC

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