When life gives you a bad break. Get fast ER care 24/7.

Fractures can occur in a variety of ways. Bones can break from high-force impact or stress, such a sports injury, as well as from medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis.

Broken bones are usually not life-threatening, but they do require medical attention. Our ER offers fast, expert care for fractures to get you back into action.

Know the signs and symptoms of a broken bone. A compound fracture, or open fracture, is relatively easy to spot as the bone protrudes from the skin. Internal fractures are more difficult to diagnose, but present with the following symptoms:

  • Intense Pain - Unable to bear weight
  • Malformity - The limb looks out of place
  • Swelling, Bruising or Tenderness
  • Pain/Problems when moving affected limb

Speak to a nurse, 24/7 »

Frequently Asked Questions

The hallmarks of a broken bone are swelling (often significant, like the size of a golf ball), large bruising, and significant pain. Usually, the pain of a broken bone is so severe that you can’t bear weight on it — that is the #1 sign. If you have any of the above symptoms — or any deformity, another obvious sign — you need to have a doctor evaluate it.

The first thing the doctor will likely do is an x-ray. In some rare cases (older adults, mainly) a CT scan will be necessary, but fractures in most healthy people will show up on an x-ray. If in doubt, the doctor may put you in a splint for protection anyway.

Other injuries that can cause similar symptoms, such as ligament, muscle or tendon tears, will not show up on an x-ray. If your doctor thinks you may have one of these, she may elect to have an MRI done as an outpatient.

Answer provided by Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD, Emergency Medicine

It's not always easy to know when you have a broken bone. Sprains and strains have some of the same symptoms. Still, here are a few things you may notice with a broken bone:

  • When the injury happens, you may hear a snap or grinding noise
  • The area may swell (get bigger, like it's filling up with water)
  • The skin may bruise (turn red and purple, or black and blue)
  • The injured part may be very painful to touch, press on, or move
  • The bone may poke through the skin
  • The injured part may look crooked or have lumps that are different from swelling
  • With a leg injury, the pain may be so bad that you can't stand or walk on the leg

Answer provided by Intermountain Healthcare

This content previously appeared on our partner site, Sharecare.

If someone has broken a bone, call 911 if:

  • The person has passed out or doesn't respond to you.
  • The person isn't breathing and isn't moving. If you know how, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) while you wait for help.
  • The injury is to the back, neck, hip, or upper leg (thigh).
  • The person is bleeding heavily.
  • The bone has pierced the skin.
  • The fingers or toes are numb, cold, or slightly blue at the tip.

Call or go to the clinic, doctor, or hospital if you think a bone is broken, and there are none of the signs listed.

Answer provided by Intermountain Healthcare

This content previously appeared on our partner site, Sharecare.

It may be displaced and need to be put back into alignment. Don’t worry; you’ll be given IV sedation for this. This is called reduction. Some fractures cause the bone to penetrate the skin. This is an orthopedic emergency, requiring an urgent orthopedic consultation. Some fractures can be splinted and will heal on their own. Some fractures require casts or an "ortho glass" splint. Other fractures, like rib fractures, require no treatment except pain control.

It is your responsibility to speak up if a treatment is causing pain. It’s also important to follow instructions regarding splints, slings, crutches or casts. Failure to follow instructions could delay healing. Let your doctor know if you notice numbness or significant increase in pain without injury. Be aware that discomfort from a fracture can last four to eight weeks as the bone heals. A fracture happens in a second but takes months to heal. The good news is that it gets better with time, rather than worse. Special exercises and rehabilitation may be prescribed by your doctor to get you back to your old self.

Answer provided by Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD, Emergency Medicine

This content previously appeared on our partner site, Sharecare.