Broken Arm X-Ray

What Are the Different Types of Fractures?

A bone fracture, also known as a broken bone, is a common injury. As there are over 200 bones in the body there are many variations and different types of fractures, and the course of your treatment and recovery will depend on which bone(s) broke and how.. In this article we look at the three primary types of fractures: open, closed, and displaced fractures.

Open Fracture

When a broken bone breaks through the skin, it is classified as an open fracture. The bone is sometimes visible through the wound. Open fractures can become infected and require surgical cleaning and treatment as soon as possible.

Open fractures are typically treated through surgery. Treatment begins with debridement, in which all foreign contaminants and diseased tissue are removed from the wound. Once the wound is clean, the surgeon implants rods and screws in the bone to hold it in place while it heals.

Closed Fracture

Closed fractures do not penetrate the skin or carry the same risk of infection as open fractures. While closed fractures are not usually considered emergencies, they still require prompt treatment. The damage from these fractures can harm the surrounding soft tissue, resulting in fracture blisters. A fracture blister can form within two days of the injury if not treated.

There are many different treatment options for fractures depending on the severity of the injury. An imaging test, such as an x-ray, is performed to assess the damage and plan treatment. Immobilization of the injured area with a cast is the most common treatment, but surgery to realign the bone may also be required.

Displaced Fracture

A displaced fracture is a broken bone that snaps so far out of place that the two ends no longer line up straight. This makes it harder to treat the fracture with immobilization alone, and surgery is usually required.


In addition to open, closed, and displaced fractures, broken bones are further categorized by other measures. These include:

  • Greenstick fractures – Exclusive to children, greenstick fractures describe bones that have bent but not completely broken.
  • Comminuted fracture – A fracture that shatters into three or more pieces.
  • Pathologic fracture – A fracture caused by a disease that weakened the bone, such as osteoporosis.
  • Stress fracture – A small, hairline crack that is hard to spot on an x-ray.
  • Transverse fracture – a horizontal fracture in the long segment (shaft) of the bone.

Experienced Bay Area Orthopedists

Muir Orthopaedic Specialists has a skilled team experienced in diagnosing and treating all types of fracture. We carefully assess every patient’s condition and create the most effective, least invasive treatment plan possible. Contact us today at (925) 939-8585 to learn more.