What Is a Broken Bone? A broken bone, also called a fracture, is when a break goes through part or all of a bone. How Do Broken Bones Happen? Most broken bones in kids happen from a fall. An accident or sports also can lead to broken bones. What Are the Kinds of Broken Bones? Types of bone fractures include: Greenstick fracture: a break on one side of the bone only Buckle or torus fracture: an outward bend on one side of the bone without breaking the other side Avulsion fracture: when a tendon or ligament pulls off of a tiny piece of bone Growth plate fracture: a break in the area of a child or teen's growing bone Stress fracture: a tiny crack in the bone Comminuted fracture: a bone breaks into more than two pieces Compression fracture: a collapsing of the bone What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Bone? The signs of a fracture depend on the type of break and the bone affected. It always hurts to break a bone. There also might be swelling and bruising. The injured area may be hard to move and use. Sometimes there is a deformity — this means that the body part looks crooked or different than it did before the injury. How Are Broken Bones Diagnosed? Doctors order X-rays if they think a bone is broken. An X-ray usually can show if there is a break, where it is, and the type of break. How Are Broken Bones Treated? Doctors treat most broken bones with a cast, splint, or brace. This keeps the broken bone from moving while it heals. Even broken bones that don't line up (called displaced) often will heal straight over time. Sometimes the displaced bones are put back in place before the cast, splint, or brace is put on. This is done through a procedure called a reduction. This is also called "setting the bone." The two types of reductions are: A closed reduction. This is done in the emergency room or operating room, after the child gets medicine to ease the pain. The surgeon moves the bones back into the right position. No incision (cut) is needed. An open reduction. This surgery is done for a more complicated injury. It happens in the operating room under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a cut and moves the bones into the right position. Surgical plates, screws, or wires might keep the bones in place. How Do Bones Heal? In the first few days after a fracture, the body forms a blood clot (or hematoma ) around the broken bone. This protects the bone and delivers the cells needed for healing. Then, an area of healing tissue forms around the broken bone. This is called a callus . It joins the broken bones together. It's soft at first, then gets harder and stronger over the following weeks. New bone forms in the weeks to months after a break, but full healing can take longer. How Can I Help My Child? As your child recovers from a broken bone, make sure that he or she: eats a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D takes good care of the cast or splint follows the health care provider's directions for rest and/or doing any exercises goes to all follow-up appointments Looking Ahead Broken bones are a common part of childhood. With the right treatment, a broken bone usually heals well. Help your child follow the health care provider's recommendations. After a few months, your child will be back to all the activities he or she did before the injury. Back to Articles Related Articles How Broken Bones Heal Broken bones have an amazing ability to heal, especially in kids. Full healing can take time, but new bone usually forms a few weeks after an injury. Read More First Aid: Broken Bones A broken bone needs emergency medical care. Here's what to do if you think your child just broke a bone. Read More Casts Casts keep bones and other tissues in place while they heal. Here's what to expect, and how to care for casts. Read More Stress Fractures A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone. They usually happen from repeating the same movement over and over. Read More Compression Fracture of the Spine A compression fracture of the spine is when the vertebrae (bones that form the spine) collapses. People with weakened bones can get them from a minor fall or with no trauma at all. Read More Broken Collarbone (Clavicle Fracture) Learn about broken collarbones (or clavicle fractures), a common sports injury in kids. Read More Growth Plate Fractures Injuries to growth plates, which produce new bone tissue and determine the final length and shape of bones in adulthood, must be treated so that bones heal properly. Read More Stress Fractures It's not always easy to tell if you have a stress fracture, and stress fractures can get worse quickly. This article explains how to prevent and treat them. Read More What to Expect When Your Cast Comes Off You probably can't wait to get back to your normal activities, but it takes a while for a limb that's been in a cast to finish healing. Here's what to expect. Read More Broken Bones What happens when you break a bone? Read More Casts This article for teens has tips on taking care of a cast so it keeps working as it should. Read More Broken Bones Bones are tough stuff - but even tough stuff can break. Find out what happens when a bone fractures. Read More Getting an X-ray (Video) You'll get an X-ray if your doctor thinks you might have a broken bone. Find out how X-rays are done in this video for kids. Read More Casts Some injuries will heal best if a cast is used. Find out how they work and how to take care of them in this article for kids. Read More 3 Ways to Build Strong Bones We build almost all our bone density when we're kids and teens. Kids with strong bones have a better chance of avoiding bone weakness later in life. Here's how parents can help. Read More How Long Does it Take for a Broken Bone to Heal? How long does a broken bone take to heal? Find out! Read More Buckle Fractures A buckle or torus fracture is a type of broken bone. One side of the bone bends, raising a little buckle, without breaking the other side of the bone. Read More Comminuted Fractures A comminuted fracture is a type of broken bone. The bone is broken into more than two pieces. Read More Greenstick Fractures A greenstick fracture is a type of broken bone. The bone cracks on one side only, not all the way through the bone. Read More Splints A splint is a support device that keeps an injured area from moving. Doctors often use splints to hold bones and joints in place so they can heal after a break. Read More Splints A splint is a support device that keeps an injured area from moving. Doctors often use splints to hold bones and joints in place so they can heal after a fracture. Read More Splints A splint is a support device that keeps an injured area from moving. Doctors often use splints to hold bones and joints in place so they can heal after a fracture. Read More How Broken Bones Heal Broken bones have an amazing ability to heal. New bone forms within a few weeks of the injury, although full healing can take longer. Read More How Broken Bones Heal Broken bones have an amazing ability to heal, especially in kids. Here's how. Read More What Is Collagen? Collagen is a protein in the body that helps make bones strong. Read More Bones, Muscles, and Joints Our bones, muscles, and joints form our musculoskeletal system and enable us to do everyday physical activities. Read More Bones, Muscles, and Joints Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn't stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement. Read More Buckle Fractures A buckle or torus fracture is a type of broken bone. One side of the bone bends, raising a little buckle, without breaking the other side of the bone. Teens don't usually get this type of fracture. Read More Broken Collarbone (Clavicle Fracture) A broken collarbone is one of the most common types of broken bones. Find out how it can happen - and how to treat and avoid fractures. Read More Comminuted Fractures A comminuted fracture is a type of broken bone. The bone is broken into more than two pieces. Read More Greenstick Fractures A greenstick fracture is a type of broken bone. The bone cracks on one side only, not all the way through the bone. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.