A broken bone is a serious physical trauma. Attached muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and even nerves can be damaged or torn by the bone’s destruction. “Open” fractures are accompanied by a visible, open wound, and can cause infection. A “closed” fracture — when the bone is broken without obvious skin injury and with less trauma than the open fracture — is still a painful experience which needs time to heal. Within these two basic types of fractures, there are a multitude of other classification schemes.

Identifying the Types of Fractures
1. Look for open fractures. An open fracture is one where the bone breaks clear through the skin.

2. Learn about closed fractures. Closed fractures, as the name implies, occur when the bone breaks but does not break through the skin.

3. Identify fractures in which bone is impacted. There are two kinds of fractures which meet this criteria and they can be difficult to differentiate.

4. Recognize incomplete fractures. Incomplete fractures do not result in two separate pieces of bone, but may still show typical symptoms of fracture.

5. Understand variant fractures. There are many other classifications of fractures based on the specific location or manner of the injury.

Identify a Fracture

Recognizing the Symptoms
1. Listen for a snap. If you heard a snap from your limb during a fall or sudden impact, it's likely your bone is fractured.

2. Feel immediate, intense pain followed by numbness and tingling.

3. Look for tenderness, swelling, and bruises with or without bleeding.

4. Look for a deformation of the limb.

5. Be aware of the signs of shock.

6. Look for a decreased or abnormal range of motion.

Getting Diagnosed
1. Visit your doctor immediately.

2. Get X-rays taken. This is the first course of action in the event a bone fracture is suspected or detected.

3. Have a bone scan done. If an X-ray cannot detect a fracture, a bone scan might be used as an alternative.

4. Request a CT (computed tomography) scan. CT scans are perfect for examining internal injuries or other physical trauma.

5. Consider getting an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) done.