A fracture is a break in a bone. And there are many different types of it. Fracture is usually a very severe injury and the athlete/patient will know about it due to the pain, tenderness, bruising and swelling. In displaced fractures, there may be some deformity present and depending on the position of the fracture, there may be some restriction of movement.
The first classification of a fracture is whether it is open (compound) or closed. Closed fractures are more common and are where the overlying skin is not broken. Open (compound) fractures occur when one end of the broken bone pierces the skin.
The word "break" is commonly used by lay (non-professional) people.
Among doctors, especially bone specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, "break" is a much less common term when talking about bones.
A crack (not only a break) in the bone is also known as a fracture. Fractures can occur in any bone in the body.
There are several different ways in which a bone can fracture; for example, a break to the bone that does not damage surrounding tissue or tear through the skin is known as a closed fracture.
On the other hand, one that damages surrounding skin and penetrates the skin is known as a compound fracture or an open fracture. Compound fractures are generally more serious than simple fractures, because, by definition, they are infected.
There is a range of fracture types, including:
Avulsion fracture - a muscle or ligament pulls on the bone, fracturing it.
Comminuted fracture - the bone is shattered into many pieces.
Compression (crush) fracture - generally occurs in the spongy bone in the spine. For example, the front portion of a vertebra in the spine may collapse due to osteoporosis.
Fracture dislocation - a joint becomes dislocated, and one of the bones of the joint has a fracture.
Greenstick fracture - the bone partly fractures on one side, but does not break completely because the rest of the bone can bend. This is more common among children, whose bones are softer and more elastic.
Hairline fracture - a partial fracture of the bone. Sometimes this type of fracture is harder to detect with routine xrays.
Impacted fracture - when the bone is fractured, one fragment of bone goes into another.
Longitudinal fracture - the break is along the length of the bone.
Oblique fracture - a fracture that is diagonal to a bone's long axis.
Pathological fracture - when an underlying disease or condition has already weakened the bone, resulting in a fracture (bone fracture caused by an underlying disease/condition that weakened the bone).
Spiral fracture - a fracture where at least one part of the bone has been twisted.
Stress fracture - more common among athletes. A bone breaks because of repeated stresses and strains.
Torus (buckle) fracture - bone deforms but does not crack. More common in children. It is painful but stable.
Transverse fracture - a straight break right across a bone.