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? Common causes of broken bones in teens include falls, accidents, and sports mishaps. What Are the Kinds of Broken Bones? Types of bone fractures include: 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 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 Kids' bones are more likely to bend than break completely because they're softer. Fracture types that are more common in kids 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 What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Bone? The signs of a fracture depend on the type of break an 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's 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 person 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 Feel Better? As you recover from a broken bone, make sure to: eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D take good care of the cast or splint follow the health care provider's directions for rest and/or doing any exercises go to all follow-up appointments Looking Ahead Broken bones are a pretty common injury. With the right treatment, a broken bone usually heals well. Follow your health care provider's recommendations, and soon you'll be back to all the activities you did before the injury. Back to Articles Related Articles 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 Casts This article for teens has tips on taking care of a cast so it keeps working as it should. 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 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 First Aid: Broken Bones A broken bone requires emergency medical care. Here's what to do. 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 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 Sports and Exercise Safety Playing hard doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how. Read More Sports Center This site has tips on things like preparing for a new season, handling sports pressure, staying motivated, and dealing with injuries. Read More Calcium Your parents were right to make you drink milk when you were little. It's loaded with calcium, a mineral vital for building strong bones and teeth. 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 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 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.