Most Common Broken Bones
Breaks & Fractures
Jul 12, 2019
If you’ve ever had a bone fracture, you’re aware of how painful they can be. And due to the extended time it can take for them to heal, the injury can significantly interrupt your daily activities. From personal hygiene to participating in your sport of choice, being sidelined can be frustrating and disheartening.
What are the most common broken bones, and how can you learn to recognize their symptoms?
The 5 Most Common Broken Bones Seen in the ER
The following injuries are the most common broken bone injuries seen in the ER:
1. Broken Arm
The most common cause of arm fractures is falling and trying to break the fall with your arms. It’s also common for them to occur in people who play contact sports or who’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Seeking medical treatment is crucial to prevent complications such as infections, a permanent limited range of motion, or post-traumatic arthritis.
Symptoms of a Broken Arm
Symptoms of a broken arm include:
- Limited range of motion
- An open wound, with the bone protruding from the skin
2. Broken Foot
Fractures to the foot can range from hairline fractures (stress fractures) that occur from repetitive motion, to full-on breaks on the bone after experiencing blunt trauma. For hairline fractures, you’ll need to rest from the activity that caused it. This includes long-distance running, gymnastics, soccer, or any other sport that requires repetitive movements. Other fractures require immobilizing the foot with a cast and keeping your body weight off the foot with crutches, while the most severe of injuries may require surgery to realign the bones or insert screws to help you regain mobility.
Symptoms of a Broken Foot
Symptoms of a foot fracture include:
- Foot deformity
- Intense pain
- Inability to put your body weight on the injured foot
If you have a stress fracture, the pain starts when doing physical activity involving the injured foot and goes away when resting.
3. Hip Fracture
Hip fractures are always the result of blunt trauma, such as a fall or accident. They are also more likely to happen to people with osteoporosis. When they occur in older adults, the injury may require surgery. Sometimes the injury is not necessarily a bone break, but a dislocation of the ball-and-socket joints on either side of the hip. Rehabilitation for either type of injury may take months.
Symptoms of a Hip Fracture
Symptoms of a hip fracture include intense pain that radiates to the groin or upper thighs.
4. Broken Ribs
Broken ribs are also the result of blunt impact. The injury can range from a hairline fracture to a rib, to multiple broken ribs, or breaks along multiple parts of a rib.
Symptoms of a Broken Rib
Symptoms of a broken rib include:
- Intense pain that worsens when taking a deep breath, laughing, coughing, or sneezing
- Tenderness to the touch
- Shortness of breath
Since the ribcage cannot be immobilized by a cast, your doctor may recommend sleeping in an upright position, holding a pillow against your chest when sneezing or coughing, and icing the site of injury.
5. Broken Clavicle
The clavicle is your collarbone. It’s an injury most commonly experienced by children and teenagers. This is because the clavicle doesn’t fully harden until around age 20. While it’s often the result of trauma (such as falling, being involved in an accident, or playing contact sports), it’s also possible to occur to a baby during birth.
Symptoms of a Broken Clavicle
Symptoms of a broken clavicle include:
- Pain that worsens when you try to move your shoulder
- Bulge on the collarbone
- Cracking sound when you move your shoulder
When the injury occurs to a baby, you’ll also notice the baby has not moved the injured arm for days.
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