When you went to the emergency room after slipping and falling down the stairs, they told you that you had fractured your foot. When your son dropped the bed on his toe as he was moving it, they said his toe was broken. These two incidents probably left you wondering: is there a difference between a broken or fractured bone? Is one a more serious injury than the other? Do they require different courses of treatment?
The answer, quite simply, is no. A fracture and a broken bone are one and the same. Fracture is a word with Latin origins (fractura); its literal translation is broken bit or fragment. In a nutshell, all broken bones are fractures, but there are different categories of fracture which do require different treatment plans.
The three basic types of fractures are: non-displaced, displaced and stress fracture. I’ll give you a little more detail on each one if you keep reading.
Non-Displaced Fracture: When a bone breaks, if the broken ends stay in contact with each other, the injury is considered a non-displaced fracture. This is one of the simpler injuries to treat because as long as the bone alignment and joint stability are in tact, these types of fractures can often be treated with casting or other non-invasive treatments. Surgery is rarely necessary with these types of fractures.
Displaced Fracture When a bone break results in a major shifting of bones, loss of alignment, or instability at the joint, it is classified as a displaced fracture. Displaced fractures can’t heal without intervention and usually require surgical repair.
Stress Fractures Stress fractures aren’t the result of a traumatic injury or fall, as other fractures usually are. Instead, stress fractures are caused by continual, repeated impact on bone; not surprisingly, runners, particularly those who train for long distances, usually suffer this type of injury. Stress fractures are seen almost exclusively in the bones of the legs and feet.
If you have a broken bone in your foot, leg or toe, regardless of the type of fracture (remember, all breaks are fractures!) Tanglewood Foot Specialists can help. Make Houston Podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider your first call if you suspect any type of foot fracture.