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Would you know if you broke a bone?

Breaking a bone (or 'fracture' if you live in the medical world) can sometimes present very similarly to other soft tissue injuries. As Osteopaths, fractures aren't something we would see normally in day-to-day practice, as they would normally go straight to Accident and Emergency for X-ray.

However, we are trained to be able to identify the potential signs and symptoms of fracture, so if a patient's case does raise question marks about their presenting complaint, then we will refer immediately. Fractures are what we call 'red flags', which means they require immediate medical attention. However, there are so many different fracture types, such as:-

  • Avulsion

  • Comminuted

  • Compression

  • Fracture dislocation

  • Greenstick

  • Hairline

  • Impacted

  • Intra-articular

  • Longitudinal

  • Oblique

  • Pathological

  • Spiral

  • Stress

  • Buckle

  • Transverse

I am sure you can recognise a few, or have been unlucky enough to suffer one one these fractures. The important information is not only in the physical examination, but also in the case history where we find out the circumstances in which you became injured. Common signs and symptoms include:-

  • Swelling or bruising over the sight of injury

  • Deformity

  • Pain in the injured area that is worsened on movement or pressure is applied

  • An inability to weightbear on the affected side

  • A loss of function in the injured area

You may be thinking this could involve other injuries such as muscle stains, tendonitis or ligament sprains. However, most fractures are as a result of a fall, blow or other traumatic event. Other fractures can be as a result of disease or repetitive stress, but you would most likely be aware of these predisposing factors.

If you feel like you have sustained a fracture, then you must go to your local emergency department for X-ray, where you will be given advice on the nature of your injury. If no fracture is evident, then it is likely to be a soft tissue injury which can then be managed by yourself or alongside your trusted health professional.


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