Common Types of Fractures

Bones can break anywhere in the body. Casts are often used for fractures in the hands, arms, legs, or feet. There are many types of fractures. But all fractures heal the same way: New bone grows to connect the broken pieces. A cast holds broken bones in place while they heal.

How bones break

Depending on the injury, bones can break in different ways. These are the most common types of fractures. (You may have a fracture that’s not shown here.)

Upper arm bone showing nondisplaced fracture.

Non-displaced fracture

  • Bone fragments (pieces) are lined up.

Upper arm bone showing displaced fracture.

Displaced fracture

  • Bone fragments are not lined up. A gap exists between the two ends of the broken bone.

Upper arm bone showing comminuted fracture.

Comminuted fracture

  • The bone is broken into 3 or more pieces.

Upper arm bone showing open fracture.

Open fracture

  • The bone breaks through the skin. (A fracture that doesn’t break through the skin is a closed fracture.) Also known as a compound fracture.

Lower arm bones showing greenstick fracture of wrist.

Greenstick fracture

  • The bone bends, but it may not break all the way. This happens most often in children, whose bones are softer and still growing.

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