How to tell if your leg is broken?

Could You Have a Fractured Bone?

Any crack or break in a bone is considered to be a fractured bone. Although auto accidents are a common cause of fractured bones, most fractures actually occur inside the home.

The most common fractured bone in children is an arm bone, because kids hold out their arms when they fall. For people over age 65 who fall, the most common fractures are hip, spine, arm, and leg fractures.

Fractured bone symptoms depend on what bone is fractured and the type of break you experience, from a stress fracture in the shin or a compression fracture in the spine. The shin bone is the most commonly broken long bone in the body, but fractured leg symptoms from the shin bone can range from mild swelling to a bone actually sticking out through the skin.

Avoid These Hip-Fracture Risk Factors

Symptoms that may occur with most fractured bones include:

  • A misshapen or deformed bone or joint
  • Bruising and swelling around the fracture
  • Severe pain that is worse with movement
  • Broken skin with visible bone showing
  • Loss of sensation or a tingling
  • Limited or complete loss of movement

Types of Bone Fractures

A bone fracture can range from a tiny crack in one spot to multiple complete breaks. Doctors use different terms to describe these types of fractured bones:

  • Greenstick. A greenstick fracture is a crack on one side of a bone that does not go all the way through.
  • Complete. A complete fracture is one that goes all the way through the bone.
  • Stress. A stress fracture is a hairline crack that occurs from overuse. Minor leg fracture symptoms often occur from stress fractures.
  • Compression. A compression fracture is when a bone collapses. This type of fracture usually occurs in the bones of the spine.
  • Open. An open fracture is a fracture that has broken the skin. These are also called compound fractures.
  • Comminuted. A comminuted fracture means that the bone is broken in more than one place.

Who Is at Risk for Fractures?

You are at greatest risk for a fractured bone when you are under age 20 or over age 65. After middle age, women are at greater risk for fractured bones than men because of osteoporosis. Loss of estrogen after menopause can cause low levels of calcium, which can make a woman’s bones weaker and easier to fracture.

Other risk factors include:

  • Participating in sports, especially contact sports
  • Weak muscles and bones from not getting enough exercise
  • Having a bone tumor
  • Having a disease that weakens bones

10 Awesome Arthritis Gadgets

What to Do for a Fractured Bone

If you or a loved one might have a fractured bone, the first thing to do is stay calm and get help. Movement of a fractured bone can make things worse. Lower leg fracture symptoms or suspected fracture of a hand or arm may require a call to the doctor. More severe fractures may require first aid and emergency treatment. Here are some basic first-aid rules for fractures:

  • Never move a broken bone if it is unstable or if it involves the head, neck, spine, or hip. If a person needs to be moved to safety, he should be grabbed by his clothing (the top of the shirt, belt, or pant legs) and dragged gently.
  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid shock by keeping the person flat and warm with a blanket. The feet can be elevated 12 inches above the head. Do not move a person to get him flat or raise his legs if a head, neck, or back injury is suspected.
  • For an open fracture, rinse the wound to remove dirt and cover it with a clean dressing. Control bleeding with gentle pressure.

Not all fractured bones are medical emergencies, but all fractured bone symptoms need to be checked by a doctor. Call 911 for fractured bone emergencies such as open fractures; severe bleeding; cold, clammy, or blue skin; and possible fractures of the head, neck, back, hip, or upper leg.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Healthy Living Center.

Leg Fracture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 22, 2020.

  • Health Guide

What Is It?

Whenever a bone breaks or cracks, the injury is called a fracture. The leg has three bones that can fracture — the femur (the thighbone) and the tibia and fibula in the lower leg. When a fracture involves the knobby end portions of bones that are part of the hip, knee and ankle joints, the fracture is more complicated. This article describes only fractures of the straight shafts of the three long leg bones.

Femur Fractures
The femur is very strong, so it takes a lot of force to fracture this bone in healthy people. The femur usually fractures during high-impact trauma, especially in automobile accidents, industrial accidents, falls from high places or gunshot wounds to the thigh. If a low-impact bump or fall causes a femur to fracture, this may be a sign that the femur has been weakened by an illness, such as osteoporosis or cancer.

Femur fractures have the potential to cause dangerous, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as significant bleeding inside the thigh, with blood loss of one quart or more. A femur fracture also may cause blood clots to form within the large veins of the thigh. If these clots break free and travel through the bloodstream, they may eventually lodge in the lungs, creating a life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism.

Among children, femur fractures tend to happen because of a fall from a high place, such as a tree or the top of a slide. In adults, these injuries usually are related to motor vehicle accidents (either as a passenger or pedestrian) or to on-the-job trauma. The number of femur fractures caused by gunshot wounds has risen significantly in recent years.

Tibia Fractures
The tibia (shinbone) is the larger of the two bones of the lower leg. Like femur fractures, tibia fractures often occur because of direct, high-impact trauma, especially during motor vehicle accidents. However, the tibia also can fracture from a low impact, even in healthy people, if the lower leg is bent or twisted at just the right angle.

Of all the body’s long bones, the tibia is the most likely to be fractured and the most likely to break through the skin when it fractures. This greatly increases the risk of bacterial contamination and infection at the fracture site. It also may prevent normal healing. The sharp ends of a broken tibia can cut into nearby nerves and blood vessels and cause serious damage to soft tissues inside the lower leg.

In 75% to 85% of patients with tibia fractures, the fibula (the thin bone at the outer side of the lower leg) is fractured as well.

Fibula Fractures
The fibula runs parallel to the tibia on the outside of the lower leg, but is smaller. The fibula usually fractures at the same time as the tibia. When only the fibula fractures, it is usually because of a direct blow to the side of the leg or an extreme sideways bend at the ankle or knee.

When only a fibula fractures, it usually does not cause long-term complications. Rarely, when the segments of broken bone are separated significantly by the injury, one of the nerves to the foot may be injured, causing foot drop, a condition in which the foot hangs limp at the ankle and drags on the ground during walking.


If you have fractured the shaft of your femur, your symptoms may include:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising in your thigh

  • Inability to bear weight on your injured leg

  • Inability to move your hip or knee on the affected side

  • Visible portions of the fractured bone, if the fracture causes a break in the skin

If you have fractured the shaft of your tibia, or both your tibia and fibula, you may see:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising in your lower leg

  • Deformity in the shape of your lower leg

  • An abnormal alignment or positioning of your foot on the affected side

  • Visible portions of the fractured bone, if the fracture causes a break in the skin

A fibula fracture that occurs alone usually causes:

  • Localized swelling and tenderness at the fracture site, along the outside of the lower leg

  • Pain at the outside of the lower leg that becomes worse when you walk


Your doctor will examine your injured leg, checking for swelling, deformity, abrasions, bruising and tenderness. To help determine whether a sharp edge of broken bone has damaged your leg’s blood vessels or nerves, the doctor also will feel the pulses along the length of your injured leg, will assess how you respond to touch and will check for normal muscle strength in your leg and foot. If the physical examination suggests that your leg’s arteries or large veins may have been injured, the doctor will order specialized tests called Doppler studies to measure the leg’s blood flow more precisely.

Your leg will be X-rayed to confirm the location and severity of your fracture, and to check for less-obvious fractures and dislocations in nearby joints.

Expected Duration

A leg fracture may take two or more months to heal depending on whether surgery is necessary; whether there were multiple fragments; and whether there were complications, such as infection.


The best way to avoid fractures is to prevent accidents. Supervise children and encourage safe play. Drive carefully and always wear a seat belt. For information about how to prevent work-related injuries in construction and other occupations, visit the website of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Prevention of osteoporosis can reduce the risk of related fractures.


Femur Fractures
In most cases, doctors prefer to repair the fracture surgically. Surgical repair usually requires a shorter hospital stay and creates less disability than other treatment methods, such as wearing a plaster cast that covers the entire leg and hip.

To repair your fracture, the surgeon will join the segments of your broken femur using a special metal rod that is inserted into the bone’s inner cavity. This rod will stabilize and reinforce the fracture site, allowing the femur to heal quickly and firmly. Once healing is complete, the metal rod may be removed or left in place.

After surgery, you will need to use crutches to avoid bearing weight on the leg, followed by a program of physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to restore normal strength in your leg muscles and normal range of motion in your leg joints. The entire process of healing and rehabilitation usually takes months.

Tibia Fractures
Treatment depends on the severity and location of your tibia fracture. If you have an uncomplicated fracture that is not near your knee or ankle, the doctor may be able to treat your injury by immobilizing your leg in a cast. More severe fractures usually have to be repaired surgically with a metal rod, wires, or plates and screws.

Fibula Fractures
In general, a fibula fracture that occurs without a tibia fracture can be treated without hospitalization. Your doctor probably will tell you to rest the injured leg, apply ice to the injured area, and take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others), to ease pain and relieve swelling. If bearing weight on your injured leg is very painful or if the fracture is near the ankle, your doctor may apply a cast and recommend that you use crutches temporarily.

If your fracture breaks the skin, you also will be given antibiotics intravenously (into a vein) to prevent infection. If you have not had a tetanus shot within the past 10 years, a tetanus vaccination will be recommended.

Once your fracture has healed enough, your doctor will prescribe a program of physical therapy to restore full strength and function in your injured leg.

When To Call a Professional

Seek emergency help if you have significant lasting pain and suspect you may have a leg fracture after a fall, a motor vehicle accident or other trauma involving the leg.


The outlook for leg fractures varies, depending on the type of fracture and its severity:

  • Femur fractures — Almost all femur fractures heal well, and most patients are able to return to their normal activities after about 6 months of treatment and rehabilitation. Among elderly patients with weakened bones, the rate of repeat fractures is high, ranging from 1% to 15%.

  • Tibia fractures — Tibia shaft fractures also have a good prognosis. Fractures that are closer to the knee tend to heal faster than those near the ankle. Fractures in children tend to heal faster than those in adults.

  • Fibula fractures — Almost all fractures of the fibula shaft heal very well without complications.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

It’s surprising to think that a person can walk around with a broken bone without even knowing it. Yet, this happens more often than you think. This is why it’s important to know how to tell if you broke a bone.

This can help you fix the problem before it becomes worse. For instance, the bone can mend at a wrong angle, rendering you immobile or less capable.

Let’s take a quick look at six signs of a broken bone.

1. Bruising and Discoloration

One of the first signs of a fractured or broken bone is bruising and discoloration. This is because blood escapes from the capillaries in the area with damaged tissues. It can also occur when you have blood seeping from a bone that’s broken.

When you see a big bruise, then this is a sign of deep damage – sometimes down to the bone.

2 Swelling

When a bone breaks, it’s common for the area to begin to swell. This is due to fluids and blood leaking into your muscles, skin, and fat (caused by the accident). The swelling becomes hard to the touch over time.

3. Dislocations

It’s not uncommon for your bone and joint to become misaligned after an orthopedic injury. This can occur in your knees, shoulder, leg, and so on. It’s important to note that dislocations can be worse than a bone fracture.

This is because broken bones normally stay in their proper location. However, when a dislocation’s involved, it can result in tearing of the tendons and ligaments.

4. Crepitus (Crunching Under the Skin)

This sounds ominous, and it kind of is. Crepitus is when you can feel crunchiness beneath your skin. That’s not supposed to exist anywhere in your body. However, if it does, then this is a sign there are broken pieces of bone rubbing against one another.

5. Deformation

Here’s a sure sign of a fracture or broken bone – deformity. This is a clear indicator that something’s gone wrong. For instance, your leg or arm bending at an angle it’s not designed to. When this happens, your bone’s out of place and needs correction.

In some cases, you may even see the bone poking out of the skin. This means the bone’s either broken or dislocated.

6. Loss of Function

Ever hurt your hand as a child and a grownup asks you to move it? This is because broken bones lose their function. So if you were unable to move your hand, then this is a sign of a broken bone. The next time you hurt your arm or leg, try to wave or walk. If you can do it but feel pain, then it could be another type of injury or bruising.

Now You Know How to Tell If You Broke a Bone

All this information is great to have for yourself and your family. As we all know, children can get pretty wild, so it’s good to know when it’s time to head to the emergency room. With these signs of how to tell if you broke a bone, you can ensure this.

If you’d like more information about identifying serious injuries or medical services, then check out the services Coastal Urgent Care of Baton Rouge offers today!

How do I know if I’ve broken a bone?

Broken bones can happen after an accident like a fall, or by being hit by an object.

The three most common signs of a broken bone (also known as a fracture) are:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • deformity

However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether a bone is broken if it isn’t displaced.

If you have broken a bone, you may experience the following:

  • you may hear or feel a snap or a grinding noise as the injury happens
  • there may be swelling, bruising or tenderness around the injured area
  • you may feel pain when you put weight on the injury, touch it, press it, or move it
  • the injured part may look deformed – in severe breaks, the broken bone may be poking through the skin

In addition, you may feel faint, dizzy or sick as a result of the shock of breaking a bone.

If the break is small or it’s just a crack, you may not feel much pain or even realise that you have broken a bone.

You should seek medical help as soon as possible if you think you’ve broken a bone. If you think you may have broken your toe or finger, you can go to a minor injury unit or urgent care centre.

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department for a broken arm or leg. Call 999 for an ambulance if the injury to the leg seems severe or you’re not able to get to A&E quickly.

Very severe suspected breaks, such as a broken neck or back, should always be treated by calling 999.

The broken bone must be properly aligned and held in place, often with a plaster cast, so it heals in the correct position.

If you don’t receive the correct treatment, you could develop a serious infection or a permanent deformity. You may also develop long-term problems with your joints.

It’s important not to eat or drink anything if you think you’ve broken a bone, as you may need a general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep) to allow doctors to realign it.

Older people and those who have osteoporosis should be particularly careful, as their bones are weaker and may break more easily.

General Information about Pain After A Fracture

General Information About Pain After A Fracture

Pain is the body’s natural response when a bone breaks. Both the fracture and any injuries to the body tissue near the fracture site can produce pain. Soft tissue refer to the muscles, ligaments, nerves, tendons and blood vessels, joint cartilage, etc. that surround the bone. When the soft tissue around the fracture is injured the result can be pain, swelling, bruising and redness.

Three Stages of Pain From a Fracture

  1. Acute pain usually occurs immediately after the fracture when the bone has broken.
  2. Sub-acute pain usually occurs the first few weeks after the fracture while the bone and soft tissue heal.
  3. Chronic pain is pain that continues long after the fracture and soft tissues have finished healing.

Any fracture can cause all or some of these types of pain to occur. For example, immediately after a bone breaks you might experience acute pain, followed by sub-acute pain while your bone heals, but you may not have any chronic pain. Other individuals may only experience acute pain. It is also possible to have a fracture without any pain; many people have had a spine fracture and do not know they have had one.

Acute Pain – Immediately after a Fracture

Immediately or soon after a fracture occurs, most people will experience what is called acute pain. Medication to reduce this type of pain is often prescribed during this stage. Acute pain will decrease with time.

In order for a broken bone to heal, it may need a cast, a brace, a splint, surgery or any combination of the above. Whatever method is used to treat your broken bone, the key is to reduce or immobilize the fracture for several weeks so that the bone can set or heal.

  • Reduce means to bring the broken ends of the bone as close together as possible to speed up the healing process. Sometimes, this requires surgery.
  • Immobilize means to prevent the broken ends of the bone from moving apart again so the fracture can “set” or heal. A cast, a brace, a splint or surgery may be used to immobilize the area around the fracture.
  • A broken bone in the back is managed by a combination of rest and the correct method of controlled movement.

It is important that you follow the instructions you are given by your doctor in terms of rest and movement. You may be asked to avoid certain movements so that you do not make the injury worse.

A broken bone and the surrounding soft tissue damage need a minimum of six to eight weeks to heal. However, depending on your general health and the condition of your bone and soft tissue, healing can take much longer. For example, osteoporotic bones take longer to heal than normal bones. During this time, it is usually necessary to reduce and modify your activities.

Sub-acute Pain – The Weeks after the Fracture and Following Recovery

The acute pain that you may have felt immediately after the injury will decrease with time, but in the weeks after your fracture, some pain may continue and this is called sub-acute pain. This is mainly because the lack of movement that was necessary to help your bone heal has caused the soft tissue around the injury to stiffen and the muscles to weaken. In addition, scarring and ongoing inflammation may have developed in the soft tissue while the fracture was healing, which can also make movement difficult and cause pain.

Physical therapy is often recommended at this stage of recovery. A physical therapist can help:

  1. prevent or reduce the stiffness that can occur during fracture healing,
  2. provide exercises to strengthen weakened muscles and improve range of motion,
  3. break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation, and
  4. help to overcome fear of movement.

The points listed above help to reduce pain and improve the function of the injured body part. The physical therapist may use ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage or other modalities to help you recover from a fracture. Physical therapy may require you to do exercises.

Medication may also be used at this stage to help control pain or inflammation.

During this stage of recovery you may be advised by your doctor to begin using the injured body part as much as possible for your usual activities even though you may still have some pain. Gradually over the next few months, movements usually become easier and more comfortable and may eventually return to normal. Slowly, the pain may completely go away.

It is normal to be fearful of some movements or activities. The memory of the pain can be powerful and the fear of breaking another bone can often lead to anxiety and reduced general activity. Despite your fear, it is important to start some gentle movement at this time; it will not be harmful. If you are uncertain, see a Bone Fit™ trained healthcare professional in your area* or, if one is not available, a healthcare provider such as a physical therapist or occupational therapist, or talk to your doctor.

Your doctor or healthcare provider can advise you about what is reasonable for you to expect for your recovery. It is important to remember that at this stage you may have pain but that does not necessarily mean you are causing further harm. Your healthcare team will help you reduce your risk of a second fracture.

Chronic Pain – After Healing is Complete

Many people who fracture will eventually heal and recover to the point where they no longer experience any pain. However, some people may continue to experience pain long after the fracture and soft tissues have healed. Full healing from a fracture can take anywhere from several weeks to several months and occasionally even several years.

Pain that persists after full healing is expected to have taken place is called chronic pain. Chronic pain may be due to nerve damage, the development of scar tissue, an aggravation of underlying arthritis or any number of other causes.

Chronic pain is usually managed on an individual basis. The choice of treatment will depend on your initial injury and the specific cause of the pain. Some examples of how to manage chronic pain include physical therapy, exercises and medications. These examples may not cure your pain but they may help to control or reduce the pain. Controlling pain can help you manage your day-to-day activities and enjoy a better quality of life.

If your pain continues, talk to your healthcare provider about other ways that are available to manage your pain to help with your daily living and overall quality of life. It is important that you consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that all possible reasons for the ongoing pain have been examined.

Again, it is important to remember that at this stage you may have pain but that does not necessarily mean you are causing further harm; returning to a reasonably physically active lifestyle will help reduce your risk of a second fracture. If you are uncertain, see a Bone Fit™ trained healthcare professional in your area, or a healthcare provider such as a physical therapist or occupational therapist, or talk to your doctor.

The Bone Fit™ trained healthcare professionals in your area, doctor or other healthcare provider can advise you about what is reasonable for you to expect for your recovery. Your healthcare team will help reduce your risk of a second fracture.

What to Expect From Some Specific Types of Fracture: Wrist and Shoulder Fractures


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Bone Fractures

What is a fracture?

A fracture, also known as a broken bone, is a condition that changes the contour (shape) of the bone. Fractures often occur when there is a high force or impact put on a bone.

Fractures are common–there are millions in the United States every year–and can be caused by a number of things. People break bones in sports injuries, car accidents, falls, or from osteoporosis (bone weakening due to aging). Although most fractures are caused by trauma, they can be “pathologic” (caused by an underlying disease such as cancer or severe osteoporosis). There are more than one million “fragility” fractures every year that are due to osteoporosis. Medical care is needed immediately after a bone is fractured.

What are the types of fractures?

There are many types of fractures:

  • A fracture can be closed (the skin is not broken) or open, which is also called a compound fracture (the skin is open and the risk of infection significant).
  • Some fractures are displaced (there is a gap between the two ends of the bone). These often require surgery.
  • A partial fracture is an incomplete break of a bone.
  • A complete fracture is a complete break of a bone, causing it to be separated into two or more pieces.
  • A stress fracture, sometimes called a “hairline fracture,” is like a crack and may be difficult to see with regular X-rays.

These are the different types of partial, complete, open, and closed fractures:

  • Transverse: the break is in a straight line across the bone.
  • Spiral: the break spirals around the bone.
  • Oblique: the break is diagonal across the bone.
  • Compression: the bone is crushed and flattens in appearance.
  • Comminuted: the bone fragments into several different pieces.
  • Avulsion: a fragment of bone is pulled off, often by a tendon or ligament.
  • Impacted: the bones are driven together.

What are the causes of a fracture?

Fractures occur when a force that is stronger than the bone itself is applied to a bone. Fractures can occur from falls, trauma, and a direct blow to a bone. Repetitive forces caused by running can cause a fracture, as well. These running fractures are often called stress fractures; these are small cracks in the bone. Osteoporosis may also cause a fracture in older people.

What are the signs and symptoms of fractures throughout the body?

  • Arm: Pain, swelling, abnormal bend, difficulty using or moving arm, warmth, bruising, or redness
  • Elbow: Pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, a ‘pop’ noise at the time of fracture, or visible deformity
  • Wrist: Pain, swelling, decreased use of hand and wrist, a crooked or deformed appearance, and unable to hold a grip
  • Hand: Pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, stiffness, and weakness. Deformities are not always common.
  • Finger: Pain, swelling, unable to move the finger, a shortened finger, or a depressed knuckle
  • Leg: Severe pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, obvious deformity, and the inability to walk
  • Knee: Pain, swelling, bruising, inability to straighten the knee and the inability to walk
  • Ankle: Severe pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, bruising, deformity, and the inability to walk
  • Foot: Severe pain, swelling, bruising, numbness in toes and foot, decreased range of motion, inability to walk comfortably, and visible deformity
  • Toe: Pain, swelling, discoloration, and bruising. You should be able to walk, but not comfortably.

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Diagnosing Nonhealing Fractures

Causes and Risk Factors

A bone may not be able to regenerate unless the bone fragments are reassembled and held in place. Several ways to stabilize broken bones without surgery include casts, braces, and slings. If surgery is required to reposition bone fragments, a doctor may use metal screws, rods, and plates to accomplish this.

The majority of broken bones heal normally when a doctor stabilizes them. However, an inadequate blood supply to the bone may lead to a nonhealing fracture. Blood vessels provide bone with oxygen and chemicals called growth factors that encourage healing. If trauma as the result of a serious injury damages blood vessels and reduces the bone’s blood supply, the bone stops producing new cells.

Diabetes, a condition that affects how the body processes sugar, may reduce the concentration of nutrients in the blood and decrease blood flow. Both factors increase the risk of a nonunion or delayed union fracture.

In addition, smoking cigarettes can interfere with adequate blood flow to bones. Doctors recommend quitting smoking as part of any treatment plan for a nonhealing fracture. Doctors and counselors at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help.

Some anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and corticosteroids, can reduce blood flow and increase the risk of a nonhealing fracture. Doctors recommend avoiding these medications until a fractured bone has fully healed.

Bones also need adequate nutrition to regenerate. Low levels of vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium may prevent a bone from healing.

An infection in the bone, which is called osteomyelitis, may also delay or prevent healing. A bone can become infected if bacteria from a wound on the surface of the skin travel through the bloodstream to the bone. This may occur as a result of an injury or a surgical incision.

Medical History and Physical Exam

Your doctor may ask how the fracture occurred, when it occurred, and whether you still feel pain at the site of the fracture.

Telling your doctor about any other medical conditions you may have, and whether you’ve been taking anti-inflammatory medication, may help your doctor determine the cause of a nonunion fracture. You should also tell your doctor if you have had previous fractures that healed slowly or not at all.

Your doctor examines the skin surrounding the fracture site for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling. Signs of a malunited fracture, such as a bump beneath the skin, weakness, or pain, may also be apparent.


An X-ray can reveal whether there is space between bone fragments. If more than a few weeks have passed since the fracture occurred and space remains between pieces of bone, it’s possible that new bone tissue did not form.

Doctors also use X-rays to confirm a malunited fracture, in which the bone does not heal straight.

CT Scans

CT scans use X-rays and a computer to create detailed two- and three-dimensional images of the inside of the body.

A doctor may order a CT scan to clarify the details of a fracture identified on an X-ray. For example, if a bone was broken into many small pieces, the space between bone fragments may not be clearly visible on a traditional X-ray.

Your doctor may use CT scans and X-rays to monitor bone healing during treatment. If images taken periodically show that there is no new bone filling the space between bone fragments, for instance, the doctor can confirm that the fracture is not healing.

MRI Scans

MRI is an imaging test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of soft tissue inside the body, including tissue produced by a bone that is healing.

Your doctor may recommend an MRI scan if he or she suspects that an infection has developed in or near a broken bone. MRI images can reveal inflammation associated with an infection.

Blood Tests

If X-rays or other imaging tests reveal a nonunion fracture, your doctor may draw blood and send it to a laboratory to determine whether an infection or nutrient deficiency is contributing to the lack of bone healing.

Your doctor receives blood test results in about one week and calls you to discuss these.

Chipped Shin Bone: Causes, Symptoms & Best Treatment 2020

If the syndesmosis tears between your fibula and tibia, it can lead to ankle joint injury and instability. This is very difficult to run or walk with and ankle joints syndesmosis rupture.

How to know for sure?

If you have pain in your Shin Bone, you probably do not have a fracture (because this requires a huge amount of force). But it may certainly be possible.

  • It is even possible to have a broken tibia with very little symptoms.
  • It is also possible to have just a bruise with severe pain.
  • It all depends on the person & how the body reacts to it!
  • The only way to know 100% sure is to see your podiatrist & get an X-ray or MRI.

Shin Bone Stress Fracture:

If you stubbed your shin on a coffee table or a door, you likely do not have a stress fracture of the shine bone.

  • These usually do not happen while stubbing your shin.
  • A tibial stress fracture gradually onsets over a period of days or weeks.
  • It is not detectable on X-ray for about 10-21 days on average.
  • If there is trauma than it is an actual fracture, not a stress fracture.
  • A stress fracture occurs due to chronic overloading of the bone, this is usually in marathon runners.

Can I have a possible ankle fracture?

Watch this video to find out how likely it is to have a sprained ankle or a broken ankle.

The Ottawa ankle rules are a series of 6 guidelines to determine if a bone is broken or not.

It assesses these 6 factors:

If one of these are positive, then it is more likely that you have a broken foot or ankle.

But there is a peculiarity when it comes to bone fractures and pain. It might not hurt at the time, but in 2015, using data from the UK Biobank of half a million adults, researchers at Southampton University found that people who had fractured their arm, leg, spine or hip in the past were more likely than other people to have widespread pain in the body decades later. Luckily this kind of pain is uncommon.

Older white women should worry about broken bones due to osteoporosis

Let’s start with age. It’s true that older women are more likely than younger women to suffer broken bones. The hormonal changes of the menopause can lead to rapid bone loss and the frequent fractures seen in osteoporosis.

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When it comes to ethnicity, in the US there are more than twice as many hip fractures in white women than black women. A number of factors have been suggested to account for the increased bone strength in black women, including higher bone mass during childhood and a lower rate of bone turnover, which might lead to a slower decline in bone mineral density with age.

Having said that, black women can still suffer from osteoporosis. It’s just that fewer of them do. Only 5% of black women above the age of 50 are thought to have osteoporosis, which has led for calls for symptoms in black women to be taken more seriously. In the US, for example, African American women are less likely to be referred for screening for osteoporosis than Caucasian women, and if they do receive a diagnosis they are less likely to be prescribed treatment.

There’s no point in a seeing a doctor for broken toes because they can’t do anything

It’s true that you might not end up in plaster, but a broken toe still needs to be checked out. Medical staff need to establish the nature of the fracture to avoid long term pain or deformities, which might make shoes uncomfortable in the future or lead to arthritis later in life if a fracture hasn’t healed smoothly. If the toe is at a weird angle after a break more complex treatment and even surgery might be needed.

Most broken toes can be taped to the toes either side and held steady in a special rigid shoe. Healing usually takes four to six weeks. Breaks in big toes are more serious and some people will need a cast up as high as the calf for two or three weeks, followed by taping to the second toe. Luckily big toes are half as likely to break as the other toes.

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