A fracture is a broken or cracked bone. It can affect any bone in the body.  Fractures usually occur from direct trauma such as a blow, or indirectly through a fall, e.g. onto an outstretched hand.

Bones can break in a simple way (closed fracture), which is a clean break to the bone that does not damage any surrounding tissue, or break through the skin. These can usually be treated with a simple plaster cast. 

A compound (or open) fracture occurs when surrounding soft tissue and skin is damaged. This type of break may require an operation to fix it correctly.

There are many different types of fractures usually named and classified by body area, size or grade, the nature and type such as spiral or oblique fracture.

Signs and symptoms

Features of a fracture include pain, tenderness, localised swelling, restriction of movement, and in some cases deformity.

The time it takes for the bone to heal depends on the type of fracture you sustain, where it is and if it is open or closed. Healing is a gradual process and can take anything from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the area and the type of fracture.

How physiotherapy can help

Physiotherapy has an important role to play in your recovery following the removal of your plaster cast and once your Consultant has indicated they are happy for you to begin rehabilitation. After the removal of your cast you will experience joint stiffness and muscle weakness, even wasting in some cases. Physiotherapy can help with all these problems, after a detailed and thorough assessment has taken place. Treatment may consist of a combination of hands-on treatment, exercises and advice tailored specifically to your individual needs to rehabilitate you back to your former level of fitness and ability.