Fracture. Broken Bone. Cracked Bone. Clean Break. Partial Break.
Many people come to our office and tell us "the ER told me I had a clean break" of my bone or "I partially broke a bone." It's confusing, so we're here to set the story straight! When you break a bone, it is called a fracture, regardless of the type of break you have. The break can be "non-displaced" or the break can be "displaced".
Orthopedic Terms and Definitions
Fracture- Any type of a break in a bone
Non-Displaced Fracture- The bone is broken but is in normal alignment
Displaced Fracture- The bone is broken and is in poor alignment
Crack in the bone- Usually refers to a small, nondisplaced fracture
Broken in half- The bone is usually displaced and requires surgery
Clean break- The bone did not come out of the skin and is likely nondisplaced
Partial Break- The bone is not fully broken, just part of it
Through and Through break- The entire bone has been broken
Fix me up!
So when is it time to fix a broken bone? The answer is extremely complex, and variable depending on the bone, the location of the break in the bone, and the potential for the bone to heal in the current position. Most people fix bones that are displaced. The rationale for fixing broken bones is that two bones do not heal well if they are very far apart. By placing bones very close together, using plates and screws and or other implants, the bone edges become closer which allows them to heal. When bones have less motion between them, meaning that a plate and screws holds things in place, they have a better chance of healing. Rarely do we fix fractures that are non-displaced. Non-displaced fractures are usually casted. Only when a non-displaced fracture is not healing do we recommend surgical intervention