• Randon Hall, MD

Broken or Fractured? What's the difference?

What's the Difference Between a Broken Bone or Fractured Bone?

Generally speaking in orthopedics, we use the two terms interchangeably, so I would say there is no difference between the two terms with reference to the bone. The common misconception is that a very small bone injury is referred to as a fracture, and a significant bone injury is referred to as a break. Honestly, I believe this comes from the use of the term "hairline fracture" which has come to mean a very small break in the bone that is as thin as a hair. However, it would still be appropriate to refer to this as a broken bone.

WHAT else do i need to know about broken bones?

There are other categories of broken or fractured bones as well. For example, when the bone is broken and a piece has punctured or is extending out of the skin, that is considered an open fracture or a compound fracture. An injury that occurs when a smaller piece of the bone is pulled off the larger bone, usually at the attachment of a ligament or tendon, it is called an avulsion fracture. A bone that has been broken into several small pieces, usually due to a significant impact, is considered a comminuted fracture. A small break that causes a minor indentation to the bone is called a buckle fracture. In regards to the positioning of the bones, if the two ends of the fracture are not lined up properly, that is referred to as displacement. Lastly, if a broken bone has tilting between the two ends of the fracture, that is described as angulation and is usually assigned a certain amount in "degrees of angulation".

Photo by Dave Pape

#fracture #brokenbone


Copyright 2017 The Sports Source, LLC

Dr. Randon T. Hall

A sports medicine physician with a passion to educate. My mission is to provide clear, concise and up to date education to athletes and sports fans for a better understanding of sports related health issues.


  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle
  • RSS - Grey Circle
  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • YouTube - Grey Circle