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5 Most Frequently Broken Bones

Ever catch a bad break?

Your body’s bones are incredibly strong and adaptive, but unfortunately, bumps and falls can happen, taking their toll on our skeleton. You may feel a little conspicuous with your cast or crutches, but broken bones happen more often than you think.

Here are the five most frequent breaks we see:


Half of all the broken bones experienced by adults are in the arm. The humerus — the large bone in the upper arm, between the shoulder and elbow — is where most of the arm breaks occur. Falls and trauma from an impact, such as an automobile accident or other collision, often causes broken arms. It typically takes about 12 weeks before an injured arm regains decent strength, and full healing of the bone can take six to 12 months.

Breaks and fractures are also common in the ulna — the outer bone in the lower arm, opposite the thumb. Children often experience “buckle fractures” in this bone, where the bone bends toward the fracture. A buckle fracture can heal in about four weeks. Since children’s bones are soft and still growing, they can heal at almost twice the rate of adults.


It’s not surprising that so many bone breaks occur in the foot, since about a quarter of all the bones in your body are found in your feet. Soccer players, ballet dancers, basketball players and others often experience breaks in the bones of their foot.

The metatarsal bones are the long bones in your feet, running from your toes to your ankle. You can break these bones by twisting the foot or experiencing a sudden impact in the foot. Bones in the foot also can break from overuse. People may go on with a broken foot for days, but delaying treatment can increase the risk of complications later, including arthritis.

Generally, a foot break will take six to eight weeks to heal, though age and underlying medical conditions can prolong recovery. And, as with arms, children tend to heal faster.


There’s no walking this one off — not without some agony, anyway.

Ankle breaks tend to happen when the ankle is twisted and rolled, which can actually happen pretty easily. Awkwardly stepping up on a curb or stumbling over an unnoticed hole can yank your foot one way and the rest of you the other.

One of the dangers with broken ankles isn’t just the broken bones, but the damage done to the ligaments in the ankle, too. These can stretch and even tear, leaving the ankle unstable and susceptible to subsequent twists and rolls. In some instance, an ankle break can be treated with a cast and crutches for a few weeks, followed by a walking boot or splint. Sometimes, surgery is necessary, especially if ligaments need to be repaired or reattached.


The collarbone has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a lot of the time. It’s long and not particularly thick, and sits high on the body in a spot that makes it relatively vulnerable, especially in contact sports.

Also called the clavicle, the collarbone does the relatively unimportant job of keeping your arms attached to your body. When collarbones break, they tend to do so right in the middle. Most collarbone breaks can be treated with several weeks of an arm in a sling, though some may require surgery to reset.


We usually break our wrists when we’re trying to keep ourselves from breaking anything else. That’s to say, the majority of wrist breaks are incurred when we try to catch ourselves when we fall (not that we shouldn’t try to catch ourselves).

Like the feet, the wrist has a surprising number of bones in it (13, if you’re wondering), and where and how those bones break can determine the treatment and time it takes for them to heal. Immobilization with a cast is usually required. The break can take as little as six weeks to as long as 24 weeks or longer in order to heal, and surgery may be necessary to ensure the wrist returns to normal function.

If you think you have a break, you should seek treatment. X-rays are often necessary to diagnose smaller fractures, while severe breaks can be apparent to anyone observing the injury. You can seek care at an emergency department or, if the break is minor or the pain has persisted for days, at an orthopedic medical practice.

To learn more about knee replacement at Tanner Ortho and Spine Center, visit TannerOrtho.org.

Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic has locations in Bremen, Carrollton and Villa Rica. For more information, visit carrolltonortho.com or call 770-834-0873.

Orthopedic and Spine Care

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