A "fracture" is the technical term for a "broken bone," which is a crack in the bone.
There are two basic types of bone fractures: traumatic fractures and stress fractures.
A traumatic fracture occurs when significant or extreme force is applied to a bone. Examples include broken bones caused by impacts from a fall or car accident, and those caused by forceful overextension, such as a twisting injury that may cause an ankle fracture.
Traumatic fractures may be nondisplaced or displaced.
A nondisplaced fracture is one in which the bone cracks or breaks but retains its proper alignment. Nondisplaced fractures often require only bracing, booting or casting treatment.
A displaced fracture is one in which two or more portions of broken bone come out of proper alignment. Severe cases can include a comminuted fracture (in which bone shatters into multiple pieces) and/or an open fracture (also called a compound fracture), in which an open skin wound occurs in conjunction with the fracture.
Displaced fractures must be reset by a doctor either by closed reduction or open reduction. In a closed reduction, the bone is manually brought back into place without surgery. In an open reduction, incisions are made and surgical tools are used to realign the bone. The affected bone is then usually fixated in place using pins, screws, wires or other means.
A stress fracture occurs when a small or moderate amount of force is applied repeatedly to a specific bone over time. With a stress fracture, the bone breaks but does not commonly become displaced (misaligned).
Below, explore further content on fractures of particular bones and regions of the skeletal structure.