Fractures And Dislocations

A fracture is a medical condition in which a bone is cracked or broken. It is a break in the continuity of the bone. “Fracture” and “Break” are the same thing. While many fractures are the result of high force impact or stress, some fractures can also occur as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, or from repeated low impact forces resulting in stress fractures.

A dislocation is a medical condition in which a joint has come out of place. Again, these typically result from a significant force or impact. Occasionally, the joint will spontaneously pop back into place. At other times, the joint will require “reduction” by a health care provider.


  • Dislocations are an injury where one or more bones are completely displaced.
  • They can cause fracture and damage to ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and nerves.
  • They are generally more obvious than fractures because of deformities e.g. a lump, ridge or depression.
  • Joints at the shoulder, thumb, fingers, and jaw dislocate more easily than others because there is a wide range of movement possible at these joints, and the bones, ligaments, and muscles do not provide a lot of protection to the joints.
  • It may be impossible to distinguish a dislocation from a fracture, so treat it as a fracture.


A fracture is nothing but a broken bone. Though bones are strong structures in your body, they tend to bend or break when they experience high external force. It is like when a bar breaks if it is twisted too far. It is a severe medical condition in which the connection of the bone is lost.

A dislocation is where a bone has been displaced from its normal position at a joint. A fracture is when a bone has been broken.


A fracture/Dislocation can happen when your joint or bone is struck with greater force than it can sustain. The higher the pressure, the more severe the fracture. Here are some of the common causes of a fracture:

  • Falls – often from heights
  • A direct blow to your body
  • Traumatic events like motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries

Some medical conditions like osteoporosis, bone cancer weaken your bones, which might cause fractures. Overuse or repetitive motions may lead to stress fractures.


It is often difficult to tell the difference between a dislocated joint from a bone fracture. Symptoms of both include:

  • Visibly out-of-place or a misshapen limb
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Broken skin with bone protrusion
  • Loss of motion


It may be difficult to determine whether your bone is broken or a dislocation has occurred. You should go to an emergency room as quickly as possible.

Your doctor will examine the affected area. He will be checking circulation to the area, deformity, and whether the skin is broken. If your doctor believes that you have a broken bone or a dislocation, he will order an X-ray. On occasion, special imaging such as an MRI may be required. These imaging tools will enable your doctor to see exactly what’s going on in the joint or bone involved.


Moving a fractured or dislocated bone may cause further damage, so get it treated as soon as possible. At Everest Urgent Care, x-ray testing is conveniently available on-site so that your medical professional can confirm the injury and / or provide you with the necessary information for an orthopaedic specialist appointment if one is needed.

Dislocation treatment depends on which joint you dislocate and the severity of the injury. It may include manipulations to reposition the bones, medicine, a splint or sling, and/or physical rehabilitation. When properly repositioned, a joint will return to normal function again.

A plaster or fiberglass cast is the most common type of fracture treatment, although splints, braces and surgery may be needed depending on severity and location. Most broken bones can heal successfully once they have been repositioned and held in place while they heal.