Pictures of Different Types of Fractures

Obvious and Subtle Broken Bone Pictures

Not all fractures (broken bones) are obvious. In fact, most of them are quite subtle when it comes to their appearance. You might have mild swelling or a bruise. Pain and sometimes impaired movement (usually due to pain or associated nerve damage) are the most consistent symptoms of a fracture.

You might know that you had a fracture if you heard a bone crack or if part of your body looks like it's bent out of shape. These fracture pictures should help illustrate the wide variety of ways broken bones can look.

Non-displaced fractures, also called simple fractures, are broken bones that haven't moved out of position. Displaced fractures are broken bones that have moved out of place.


Broken Ankle

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The swelling, discoloration, and bruising are typical of a broken ankle.
The swelling, discoloration, and bruising are typical of a broken ankle.


Ankle fractures are fairly common and can cause symptoms similar to those of an ankle sprain. You can have one or more bone fractures with this type of closed injury.

Treatment may include surgery and/or splinting with immobilization until it heals. Eventually, physical therapy is an important part of recovery.

Keeping your ankle immobilized can be difficult. Using a pillow splint is a simple way to keep your ankle still without too much discomfort.


Broken Thumb

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Comparing One Side to the Other Helps Illustrate Swelling
The difference in appearance between these two thumbs can happen with a closed fracture.

Anna Hirsch

Sometimes two sides of the body that are usually equal can look very different from each other when one side is fractured.

An X-ray can be used to identify a broken bone. In the meantime, RICE (rest, ice, elevation, and compression) could help control the pain and keep the swelling down.

You have 14 finger and thumb bones in each hand (phalanges). If you break any of them, the pain can be excruciating.


Broken Hand

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Swelling and Bruising Makes It Hard to Use This Hand
A fracture of a bone in the hand can cause extensive bruising, pain, and difficulty moving.

Rev Stan

The bones in your hands work together to carry out complex and well-coordinated movements. You have eight bones in your wrist (carpals) and five bones in your hand (metacarpals).

Any fracture in your hand can lead to permanent problems with hand mobility if it isn't treated promptly.

If your hand movement is impaired, you should get medical attention right away.


Open Fracture of the Finger

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An Open Wound Over a Fracture Makes This an 'Open Fracture'
An open fracture can lead to a bone infection.

Bien Stephenson

A compound fracture, also called an open fracture, is a broken bone associated with an open wound. Sometimes part of the bone can be seen protruding from the wound.

A deep wound over the fracture site might also have a yellowish appearance, which is fatty tissue on the edges of the laceration.

If you have an open fracture, you could be at risk of getting a bone infection. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned, and sometimes antibiotics are given to prevent an infection.

Open fractures should get the same broken bone treatment as any other fracture plus control of bleeding and wound dressing.


Sesamoid Fracture

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Sesamoid Fractures Are Subtle and Can Happen Without Obvious Injury
Sesamoid fractures are very painful, but they can have a subtle appearance.

Jason Cartwright

The sesamoid bones are two small, pea-shaped bones at the base of the big toe.

Sesamoid fractures can happen as a result of several different types of trauma—like dropping something heavy on your foot or jumping onto a hard surface—or they can happen over time from repeated physical pressure, such as due to work or sports.


Mallet Finger

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Stretched Tendons and Broken Bones Keep Mallet Fingers Permanently Bent
A mallet finger can occur due to a stretched or torn tendon or a bone fracture.

Jerry Sutphin

A mallet finger can happen due to stretching of the tendon that pulls the finger straight. Sometimes a fracture is involved too.

This type of injury is often associated with sports. Sometimes they're called a baseball finger or a football finger.

If the tendon is stretched and not torn, a mallet finger 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.

A mallet finger can lead to permanent damage, so it's important to see a healthcare provider if you have trouble straightening your finger after an impact.


Colles Fracture

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broken wrist
A Colles' fracture can happen if you brace a fall with an outstretched hand.

Sabrina Cherry

If you're falling down and you put your hand out to stop your fall, 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 is one of those broken bones that usually elicits a reaction when you see it. This sort of image may even make you cringe and say, "Ouch!"

Splinting the broken wrist can relieve a lot of pain. A Colles fracture can cause damage to the median nerve, resulting in weakness and/or sensory loss.

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

Be Careful With Ice

Over-icing an injury can lead to frostbite. To avoid frostbite from icing an injury:

  • Do not apply ice for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.
  • Don't put ice directly on your skin. Use a cloth barrier in between.
  • Allow your skin to warm up again before putting the ice back on.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are displaced and nondisplaced bone fractures?

    Displaced bone fractures involve the broken bone being moved out of place, while simple, non-displaced fractures result in the fractured bone remaining in its correct place. Displaced fractures often require medical or surgical repositioning of the bone for proper healing.

  • What is a compound fracture?

    A compound fracture is an open fracture that is associated with broken skin, whereas a closed fracture is not associated with any skin wound. Sometimes the bone or other structures protrude from the open wound. Infection precautions, including cleaning the wound and antibiotics, are often necessary with a compound fracture.

  • What is a stress fracture?

    Also known as a hairline fracture, a stress fracture occurs due to repeated pressure or pounding on a bone. These fractures are associated with repetitive movements; for example, stress fractures have been known to occur in the feet from running and jumping on concrete surfaces. Wearing properly-fitted and cushioned foot gear can help prevent a stress fracture in the feet.

  • How long does a fracture take to heal?

    In many cases, a bone fracture can take at least six to 12 weeks to heal. Children who experience a bone fracture often heal faster than adults. It is very important to keep the affected area as still as possible since movement can affect healing.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chan JJ, Geller JS, Chen KK, et al. Epidemiology of severe foot injuries in US collegiate athletes. Orthop J Sports Med. 2021 Apr 23;9(4):23259671211001131. doi:10.1177/23259671211001131

  2. Ozgozen L, Uluyardimci E. A novel hook wire tension technique for the treatment of mallet fractures: A comparison with the extension block pinning technique. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2021 Mar 28:S1748-6815(21)00117-0. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2021.03.027

  3. Aliuskevicius M, Østgaard SE, Vestergaard P, Rasmussen S. The influence of ibuprofen on the healing of nonsurgically treated Colles' fractures. Orthopedics. 2021 Mar-Apr;44(2):105-110. doi:10.3928/01477447-20201216-04

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Kneecap Fractures (Patella Fractures).

  5. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Bone Healing.

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.