What Does it Feel Like to Break a Bone?

February 7, 2021 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Bone fractures, also known as broken bones, affect millions of people across the country every year. From sports injuries to accidental falls, people break bones in a variety of ways. A fracture may also be the result of a medical condition such as osteoporosis and some cancers, which weaken the bones. Although bones are quite strong and resilient to significant amounts of impact, they have their limits too. 

If you are in the Triangle Community in North Carolina, Raleigh Orthopaedic strongly recommends you visit an urgent care location straight away. We have six conveniently located in and around the Raleigh community.

Types of Bone Breaks

There are several different ways in which a bone can fracture which will determine the type of fracture you have. The most common types of bone breaks include: 

  • Closed or open fractures: Closed, or simple, fractures do not break through the skin, yet open, or compound, fractures do. 
  • Partial fractures: The break doesn’t go all the way through the bone.
  • Complete fractures: The break goes completely through the bone, breaking into two pieces. 
  • Displaced fractures: The broken pieces of the bone do not stay intact and a gap forms. Surgery is usually required.
  • Stress fractures: The bone gets a crack in it, which can sometimes be hard to detect with imaging tools. 

What Happens When a Bone Breaks?

Collagen and calcium phosphate are materials packed together to form a bone and give it strength. They allow our bones to take on a certain amount of weight without any issues. However, when too much force is put on a bone, it can potentially break. The likelihood of a bone fracture is highly dependent on a person’s age and overall health. As we age, our bones lose density, which means there is less collagen and calcium phosphate to support them. Some common symptoms to look out for if you think you’ve broken a bone include:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty using the limb
  • Noticeable and abnormal bump, bend or twist

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect that you’ve broken a bone, contact your healthcare provider immediately or visit one of our urgent care centers at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic. You don’t need an appointment – just show up and we will provide you with prompt, comprehensive assistance.

Diagnosing a Broken Bone

In order to diagnose a broken bone, your doctor will first perform a physical examination. If further evaluation is required, you will likely undergo one or more imaging tests. These tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • Bone scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI

How to Treat a Broken Bone

Your doctor will most likely use a cast or splint to treat a broken bone. Casts wrap completely around the break with a hard protective cover, while splints only protect one side of the bone. Smaller bones such as fingers and toes don’t require a cast to heal. Both types of support keep the bone immobile and straighten it while the bone grows back together. Surgery may be necessary for some breaks, using stainless-steel screws, plates and fixators, or frames. 

Recovery From a Broken Bone

Recovery time for a broken bone varies from person to person and is highly dependent on the location, type, and severity of the break. On average, it takes about six to eight weeks for a broken bone to fully heal. Also, keep in mind that as you age, you tend to heal more slowly. 

Recovery from a broken bone may require physical therapy. If your doctor prescribes such treatment, several physical therapy locations in the Raleigh area for you to choose from.

Expert Orthopedic Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic

Your well-being is important to us. Raleigh Orthopaedic is Wake County’s oldest and most experienced orthopedic practice, serving the Triangle and surrounding regions of central North Carolina since 1919. Raleigh Orthopaedic offers online scheduling so click the button below or call us at (919) 781-5600 to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.