Gallery of Fracture Pictures

Obvious and Subtle Broken Bone Pictures

1
Broken Ankle

Swelling and Bruising Buys This Ankle at Least an X-ray. (c) Flickr user knitgirl63

Fractures can be very obvious. It's disconcerting to see an arm or leg bent in a way that just doesn't look natural. In the words of a medical examiner I learned many insights from: "This anatomy is just a bit disarranged."

That doesn't mean all fractures are obvious; most of them are quite subtle. There can be a little swelling or a bruise pattern that makes you wonder. Often, the only indicator of a fracture is the mechanism of injury and excruciating pain.

Indeed, it is a myth that victims can't move fractured parts. Broken bones can get in the way, but movement comes from muscles and tendons. Fractured arms, legs, hands, feet and fingers are certainly capable of movement.

These fracture pictures should help illustrate the wide variety of ways broken bones can look.

The swelling around this ankle and the discoloration or bruising near the bottom of the frame would make anyone concerned. Ice, elevation and compression would help keep the swelling down until an x-ray can be obtained. Without the x-ray there's no way to be sure this ankle is broken.

Keeping an ankle immobilized is difficult because of the shape of the foot. Using a pillow splint is a simple way to keep it still and can be the most comfortable option -- if it's possible for a broken ankle to be comfortable.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

2
Broken Thumb

Comparing One Side to the Other Helps Illustrate Swelling. (c) Anna Hirsch

The best way to identify swelling is to compare sides. Looking at these two thumbs, it's obvious the one on the left side of the image is bigger than the one on the right.

Ice, compression and elevation are the gold standards for keeping swelling down in the first couple days after an injury. If the function of a thumb or finger is compromised, it's time to go see the doctor and get an x-ray.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

3
Broken Hand

Swelling and Bruising Makes It Hard to Use This Hand. (c) Rev Stan

Fractures of the hand can be difficult because of the hand's complicated bone structure. There are 8 bones in the wrist (carpals) and 5 bones in the hand (metacarpals). Plus, there are 14 finger and thumb bones in each hand (phalanges).

Treating hand fractures includes ice and elevation as well as immobilizing the hand in what's known as position of function.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

4
Open Fracture of the Finger

An Open Wound Over a Fracture Makes This an 'Open Fracture'. (c) Bien Stephenson

An open fracture is simply an open wound associated with a fracture. This broken finger has a laceration over the fracture site. A close look at the picture reveals a deep wound and evidence of fatty tissue on the edges of the laceration (the yellowish coloring).

You don't need to see bone to call a fracture open. Open fractures have a greater chance of infection. Open fractures should get the same broken bone treatment as any other fracture plus control all bleeding and dress the wound if possible.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

5
Sesamoid Fracture

Sesamoid Fractures Are Subtle and Can Happen Without Obvious Injury. (c) Jason Cartwright

The sesamoid bones are two small, pea-shaped bones at the base of the big toe. Sesamoid fractures can happen from some sort of trauma -- like dropping something heavy on your foot or jumping onto a hard surface -- or they can happen over time from chronic stress.

Sesamoid fractures are very painful but not overly dramatic. As you can see from the picture, sesamoid fractures can be pretty subtle.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

6
Mallet Finger

Stretched Tendons and Broken Bones Keep Mallet Fingers Permanently Bent. (c) Jerry Sutphin

Mallet fingers are more about tendons than bones, but there can be a fracture involved. Mallet fingers happen when enough pressure is applied to the tip of the finger to stretch or tear the tendon that pulls the finger straight. Sometimes, the tendon can be ripped from the bone and cause a fracture of the bones of the finger, as happened in this case.

If the tendon is simply stretched and not torn, mallet fingers can be treated with a simple splint to keep the finger straight until the tendon heals. If the tendon is torn or the bones are broken, surgery may be required, as it was in this case.

Mallet fingers often happen during sports. Sometimes they're called baseball finger or football finger. These injuries can lead to permanent damage, so it's important to see a doctor if you suspect mallet finger or have trouble straightening your finger after an impact.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

7
Colles Fracture

broken wrist
The Most Common Broken Wrist. (c) Sabrina Cherry

Put your hand out to stop your fall on the way down and you're likely to suffer the most common of all broken wrists: the Colles fracture.

Usually caused by a broken radius bone (the big forearm bone on the same side as your thumb) the Colles fracture has a very recognizable shape. This common deformed wrist is often described as a "dinner fork" fracture because of the way the new bend in the wrist looks like the neck of your grandma's favorite silverware.

This is one of those broken bones that usually elicits a reaction when you see it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you cringed at the sight of this picture and even said, "Ouch!"

Any deformity (odd shape that doesn't look the way anatomy is supposed to look) should be seen by a doctor. It's not necessary to call 911 for a fractured arm or wrist. You don't even have to go to an ER, however you will have to get an x-ray. If your doctor doesn't offer that service in the office, then expect to go to an imaging center.

If it will be a while before you see the doctor, properly splinting the broken wrist can relieve a lot of pain. To keep swelling and pain to tolerable levels, follow RICE after you splint it (in this case it's rest, ice and elevation -- compression is skipped because of the splint).

Remember not to ice an injury more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time and allow it to warm up again before putting the ice back on. Leaving ice on an injury too long, especially if you put it directly on the skin, can lead to frostbite from the ice pack.

Colles fractures often heal just fine with proper splinting, usually by immobilizing with a cast. In some extreme cases, surgery might be necessary.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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