Can You Tell the Difference Between a Fracture and a Break?

How to Tell If It's a Sprain or a Broken Bone

If we compiled a collection of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) here at Metro Urgent Care, the list would probably start with these:

  • Do I have the cold or the flu?
  • What’s worse, a strain or a sprain?
  • How long does an x-ray take?

But another question deserves consideration as top FAQ. From youth sports injuries to unfortunate accidents, broken bones and fractures are some of the most common injuries we treat at our walk-in healthcare clinics. As a result, we’re often asked, “What is the difference between a fracture and a break?” We’re here to settle the fracture vs. break debate once and for all!

Keep reading – the answer may surprise you!


What Is the Difference Between a Fracture and a Break?

Fracture or break? There’s a simple answer to the broken bone vs. fracture question.

Well, it’s kind of simple.

And the answer is…drumroll, please…they’re the same thing! Seriously – no bones about it!

A bone fracture and bone break may sound different, but they’re not. Some people think that a break implies a “clean snap,” where the bone is literally broken in two. And the term “fracture” is regarded by others as a slight hairline fracture, but not a clean break.

However, they’re the same thing. That fact is shocking to many of our patients, but that’s not exactly the end of the story. Since the fracture vs. break debate is non-existent, let’s phrase the question another way: What are the different kinds of breaks and fractures?


What are the Different Types of Fractures?

Instead of focusing on a fracture vs. break, we should actually look at the different types of fractures that can occur. So another way to answer our original question is by comparing the following fractures:

  • Displaced Fractures. This type of fracture (or break, whatever you prefer) is the most traumatic type of broken bone. A displaced fracture occurs when bones (and bone fragments) move around after a break. Serious automobile accidents, falls, sports injuries and other circumstances can cause a displaced fracture.
  • Non-Displaced Fractures. If a bone breaks and contact is maintained between the ends of the fracture, the result is a non-displaced fracture. For the most part, the surrounding joints and ligaments are still aligned, and no major damage is suffered, aside from the broken bone.
  • Stress Fractures. Constant running. Repetitive motion. Chronic activity. The regular “wear and tear” of some activities cause stress fractures – small cracks in the bone. Stress fractures are less serious than displaced or non-displaced fractures.

Metro Urgent Care can help mend any type of fracture. We feature comprehensive x-ray services at every one of our Denver-area walk-in clinics. Regardless of your non-life-threatening injury, Metro Urgent Care can help get you back on track, healthier than ever!

To find a Metro Urgent Care near you, check out our healthcare clinic finder. Thanks for reading our blog!

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