Fracture vs. Break

By Nikki Clayton, PT, DPT, ATC

Did I Break My Arm or Fracture It?

By: Nikki Clayton, PT, DPT, ATC

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!

Broken bone or a fracture?

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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.


Fractures/ breaks are diagnosed 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).


The treatment of fractures varies depending on type, location and the preference of treatment of the MD. Typically, fractures are treated 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.

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!

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