Pads & Cuts: Signs & Symptoms of Broken Bones

In class yesterday we were talking about broken bones. Luckily for them, most people had not broken anything. So, we need a way to easily remember the signs & symptoms of broken bones. Fortunately all you have to remember is ‘Pads & Cuts’:

Signs & Symptoms of Broken Bones

Pain. This is the easy one. We all expect broken bones to be painful. While this is often true, not everyone feels the same level of pain, or any pain at all. We have a friend’s child who was happily trampolining on a broken ankle with no pain at all. So – pain is probable, but don’t rule out broken bones just because it’s not a painful as you expect.

Angulation. An odd sounding symptom – Angulation just means bones are at an angle they wouldn’t naturally be. When bones break they can end up at right angles to where they normally would be – or at pretty much any other angle.

Deformity. Well, their body is not longer the shape it normally is. This can take all kinds of forms: if you’ve ever seen a broken wrist, the hand often hangs down below the lower arm bones. The deformity will be quite obvious!ankle sprain-break

Swelling. Broken bones can easily cause swelling, especially if the broken ends have done some damage to the surrounding tissues. Blood or fluid loss in the area cause swelling, bruising and yes, deformity.


Crepitus. That’s just a fancy way of saying ‘you can hear it’. The person may report crepitus “I heard it snap” or you might hear crepitus while you’re trying to help the person. Don’t go trying to make the noise! Crepitus is not good.

Unnatural movement. Once bones are broken, the normal support structure for body parts is gone. This can result in unnatural movement. The person who has a broken wrist can easily have a hand that is quite ‘floppy’. If someone has broken both bones in their lower leg, any movement is going to look very unnatural.

Tenderness. The way I try to explain tenderness is “pain that’s so painful the person won’t even let them assess the injury”. The kind of painful pain where they jump before you touch them.

Shock. It can happen for many reasons, but shock could be a sign of a broken bone, especially the larger bones (like thigh bones). Damage done to tissues causes fluid loss and this causes shock.

Pads & Cuts

So there we have 8 possible signs & symptoms of broken bones. Not everyone will have all of them. There are others – bruising for example; but this is an easy way to remember a log of them. Next you need to learn how to treat broken bones. Luckily we have a class for you. Come join us!

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