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What Is a Non-Displaced Fracture? Insights into Stable Bone Breaks

A non-displaced fracture occurs when a bone cracks or breaks but maintains its proper alignment, unlike more severe breaks where pieces shift out of place. This type of fracture often requires less invasive treatment, promoting a smoother recovery. Wondering how this impacts healing time and care? Let's explore the intricacies of managing such fractures for optimal recovery.
A. Gamm
A. Gamm

Bone fractures are a common injury, with millions occurring worldwide each year. A non-displaced fracture, where the bone cracks partially or completely without moving out of place, accounts for a significant portion of these cases. 

According to the Hand and Wrist Institute, non-displaced fractures often result from a forceful impact distributed over a larger area, leading to a clean break without misalignment. These fractures can be deceptive, as they may not be immediately apparent without an x-ray, essential for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. Understanding a non-displaced fracture and its subtleties is crucial for effective management and optimal recovery.

An x-ray may be required to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
An x-ray may be required to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.

Non-displaced fractures are typically clean breaks to the bone. This usually occurs when the blow to the bone is swift and dispersed along a larger area. As such, it is normal for the bone to only break partially, which means there is usually only a crack in the bone that does not go all the way through. They differ from displaced fractures because a displaced fracture normally results in a complete break and shifts the bone from its original place, sometimes so much that is protrudes from the body.

A fractured finger is typically set in a splint to prevent movement.
A fractured finger is typically set in a splint to prevent movement.

Due to the nature of this type of fracture, a person may not be able to tell if there is an actual break in the bone. Typically, this type of fracture is seen only in an x-ray, but depending on how and where the fracture occurs, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan may be used. Before the orthopedic doctor checks for a non-displaced fracture, a person may suspect there is a fracture if certain signs of a break appear. These signs usually include stiffness, tenderness, severe pain and swelling of the area.

Football players are at risk for non-displaced fractures following a tackle.
Football players are at risk for non-displaced fractures following a tackle.

As a non-displaced fracture means the bone remains aligned, treating the fracture is usually simpler than treating other types of breaks. Sometimes the doctor may apply temporary pain relief to the area and provide medication to help with swelling. The doctor may then apply a splint or cast to prevent any further damage while the bone heals. This largely depends on the nature of the break and where the break occurred. A non-displaced fracture on the skull, for instance, may require very little care, and a protective covering is typically unnecessary.

A CT scan may be used to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
A CT scan may be used to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.

Some fractures carry risk for further damage after the break occurs. Although this type of fracture leaves the bone in its original spot, it may be at risk for moving and becoming a displaced fracture sometimes weeks after the original break took place. This will cause even more damage to the surrounding area. An orthopedic doctor will typically monitor a non-displaced fracture to determine the likelihood of this happening. Fractures that happen near joints may also put the person at high risk for having arthritis in the affected area later in life.

FAQ on Non-Displaced Fracture

What is a non-displaced fracture?

A cast may be the only treatment necessary for a non-displaced fracture.
A cast may be the only treatment necessary for a non-displaced fracture.

A non-displaced fracture is a type of bone break where the bone cracks either partially or completely, but maintains its proper alignment and position. This means that the broken pieces of bone have not shifted or moved out of place. Non-displaced fractures can vary in severity and may not always be immediately apparent on an X-ray. They typically require less intensive treatment compared to displaced fractures, where the bone ends do not line up correctly.

How is a non-displaced fracture treated?

Treatment for a non-displaced fracture generally involves immobilization of the affected area to allow the bone to heal properly. This is often achieved with a cast, splint, or brace, depending on the location and severity of the fracture. The healing process can take several weeks to months, and patients may also require physical therapy to restore strength and mobility. In some cases, pain management and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to alleviate discomfort.

Can you walk on a non-displaced fracture?

Whether you can walk on a non-displaced fracture depends on its location and severity. Weight-bearing bones, like those in the leg or foot, may require you to limit or avoid putting weight on the affected limb. Your doctor will provide specific instructions based on your injury. For example, they may recommend using crutches or a walking boot to aid mobility while minimizing stress on the healing bone.

What is the healing time for a non-displaced fracture?

The healing time for a non-displaced fracture varies depending on factors such as the bone involved, the patient's age, overall health, and the severity of the fracture. Generally, most non-displaced fractures heal within 6 to 8 weeks. However, larger bones like the femur or bones with a poor blood supply may take longer to heal. Following your doctor's advice on care and rehabilitation is crucial for a successful recovery.

Are non-displaced fractures less serious than displaced fractures?

Non-displaced fractures are often considered less serious than displaced fractures because they do not involve the misalignment of bone fragments, which can complicate the healing process and potentially require surgical intervention. However, it is important to treat a non-displaced fracture promptly and properly to prevent complications such as delayed healing or the development of a displaced fracture due to inadequate immobilization or additional trauma.

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Discussion Comments

Instanity
I had one of these in my foot last year. I had to wear one of those hard-soled shoes to keep my foot mobilized while it healed. I spent the entire summer like that. It was unpleasant.
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    • An x-ray may be required to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
      By: Rido
      An x-ray may be required to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
    • A fractured finger is typically set in a splint to prevent movement.
      By: Rob Byron
      A fractured finger is typically set in a splint to prevent movement.
    • Football players are at risk for non-displaced fractures following a tackle.
      By: guerrieroale
      Football players are at risk for non-displaced fractures following a tackle.
    • A CT scan may be used to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A CT scan may be used to diagnose a non-displaced fracture.
    • A cast may be the only treatment necessary for a non-displaced fracture.
      By: Fotoluminate LLC
      A cast may be the only treatment necessary for a non-displaced fracture.