How to know if you broke a bone

I get hundreds of comments about these Ask Dr. Geier posts each month. Many of them describe an injury, and the person can’t decide if it’s serious. Often the person is concerned for a fracture of whatever body part he or she hurt. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I share my thoughts on how to know if you broke a bone.

How can you know if you broke a bone?

It might be surprising, but there is not one specific finding that tells orthopedic surgeons just by looking at you that you broke a bone. If that bone is clearly deformed, it would seem likely that a fracture exists. Not every body part is noticeably deformed with a fracture though.

Tenderness to palpation in a specific part of the bone when you press on it, swelling that won’t go away, inability to use it , inability to put weight on it if it’s the leg, ankle or foot, and others at least raise suspicion for a broken bone. Also, a small wound at the injury site that continues to ooze blood could represent an open fracture.

How to know if you broke a bone

If there is any question, going to an emergency room or an orthopedic surgeon can be a good place to start. The doctor can examine you and then get x-rays to confirm or rule out a fracture.

Also read:
When can you play sports after you break a bone?
I can’t put weight on my foot. What should I do?

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

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