A fracture may be defined as a break in the continuity of a bone, however a crack is also known as a fracture. Most human bones can stand up to fairly strong impacts or forces, however if the force is too strong or there is something wrong with the bone it will fracture. The older we get the less the force the bone can withstand. Children's bones are more elastic and have areas at the ends called growth plates, which can sometimes be damaged so often their fractures are different to those seen in an adult.


A greenstick fracture is a common example of this wear the bone partly breaks but the rest bends because of its flexibility.



  • Direct force.
  • Indirect force.
  • Twisting.
  • Violent sudden movement.
  • Pathological - an underlying illness or condition that has weakened the bone. E.g. Osteoporosis, a tumour or perhaps infection.


Types of Fracture:

  • Closed: The skin is not broken.
  • Open: The skin has been penetrated and the bone exposed to air.
  • Complicated: Involving trapped nerves or blood vessels.
  • Green Stick: More common in children, the bone is split.


Signs & Symptoms:

  • History.
  • Pain.
  • Loss of power.
  • Deformity, swelling, bruising at the site.
  • Difficulty in moving.
  • Shortening, rotation.
  • Irregularity.
  • Crepitus – a cracking or grating felling or sound.
  • Tenderness.


Diagnosis is made on circumstances, signs and symptoms and sometimes either an X-Ray, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT (Computed Tomography) scan.



  • Reassurance.
  • Do not move patient (unless in a dangerous situation like the middle of a road) and try to keep them still.
  • Make them comfortable.
  • Do not try to bandage or immobilize, wait for health care professional.



  • Do not let the patient eat or drink in case surgery is required.



We hope you find this article useful. This is one in an alphabetical series of articles addressing various symptoms and their first aid treatments. If you would like more information on related resuscitation and first aid training, please get in touch.


You might also be interested in our blog. Amongst other things, Clive Haddrell talks about what it is like to be a consultant on the BBC's 'casualty' show.


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