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What is a bone fracture?

A bone fracture is when the force of a blow or flow causes the bone to break. A bone fracture is also called a bone break or crack.

There are different types of bone fracture:

  • closed fracture: the skin over the bone is intact
  • open fracture: the skin has been pierced

Fractured bones require medical attention. If the fracture is the result of a major trauma or accident, call triple zero (000). You should also call for emergency help if the person:

  • is unconscious or not responding — you should perform CPR if there is no pulse or breathing
  • is bleeding heavily
  • has bone visible through the skin
  • has a possible back, neck, or head injury

What are the symptoms of a bone fracture?

Symptoms of a bone fracture may include:

  • pain around the area of the injury
  • swelling
  • deformity
  • bruising or discolouration
  • it’s difficult or impossible to move the limb normally
  • loss of power in the limb

What causes bone fractures?

The most common cause of bone fractures is trauma, such as a sporting injury, motor vehicle accident, or a fall.

Bone fractures can also be caused by minor injuries in conditions that weaken the bones and allow them to fracture more easily (osteoporosis and some types of cancer are examples).

Overuse and repetitive motion can also place more stress on a bone and cause it to fracture.

Follow the links below to find trusted information about fractures.

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Last reviewed: June 2020

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