X Rays of Broken Bones: The Rest of the Story

Taking X rays of broken bones is usually the best way to get the most information about the situation. When someone breaks one or more bones, you can’t tell much by looking at the area where it hurts. If its a compound fracture, of course, you know for sure the bone is broken. But broken bones are not always so obvious. Some people have actually broken bones and not even realized it. There’s only a dull ache that’s attributed to something else like arthritis. Eventually though the ache or some other symptom drives the person to the doctor for situation evaluation.

Taking x rays of broken bones is painless, safe and quick. You can’t ask for more than that in a medical procedure. The x ray takes pictures of the bone through your skin and tissue. Its ideal for bone images, but it doesn’t tell the doctor anything about surrounding tissue damage. The first step though is determining which bone is broken and what kind of fracture classification it fits. After that the doctor will determine if tissue imaging, such as an MRI, is necessary. In most cases its not needed.

X rays of broken bones are useful for all bones in the body. Images of arm and wrists, ankles and feet, legs and knees, and hips and the spine can provide a lot of information about the situation. In some situations, a person thinks they may have a broken bone, but x rays reveal its a dislocation or deterioration. For example, women with osteoporosis will experience vertebrae collapse which can be painful, but is not a broken bone (yet).

X rays of broken bones are also used as part of ongoing treatment until the bones heal. When your bones are placed in a cast, the x ray can be used to determine if the bone is set correctly and healing properly. The x ray can be taken right through the cast.

Some people still worry that exposure to radiation during an x ray is dangerous. Its not. The level of radiation is so low that it doesn’t cause any long term problems. Most people have few x rays taken during their lifetime so exposure is minimal anyway. X rays can reveal a lot of information including whether the bone is actually broken, only chipped or has abnormal growth.

X rays of broken bones are a useful medical tool for identifying which bones are broken and what kind of break is involved. Without the x ray, doctors would have to operate to set broken bones. With the x ray, the doctor can use the images to determine that the bones are stabilized and healing properly. You can find lots of images online of x rays of broken bones. Its a fascinating look at how bones break and how medical science can help the body heal itself.