It’s always scary when you or someone you know breaks a bone. Not knowing the extent of the injury, the excruciating pain felt and the chaos of paramedics and ambulance sirens all add to the stress of an accidental break. However, it’s important to note that breaking bones is extremely common and that our first responders and orthopedic doctors are well-trained and equipped to handle even the scarier breaks. Broken bones are so common that Ohio State reported that there are nearly 6.8 million fractures annually in the United States alone. Of those 6.8 million broken bones, which are the most common? Here is our list of the five most common broken bones.
The clavicle, or collarbone, is the number one most broken bone. This is likely because there are many different ways it can be broken. The clavicle is a very fragile bone from birth, so it’s common for babies and toddlers to break them. The clavicle can even break in a newborn as it moves through the birth canal! Luckily, babies’ bones are still soft and can heal very fast.
Only second to the clavicle, arm fractures are another common broken bone in children. An arm is considered broken when one or more of the several arm bones break. Almost all broken arms are a result of falling or direct trauma. Direct trauma can be any direct hit to the arm, such as a baseball bat, a car crash, or any object that gives direct force to the arm.
The wrist has eight different bones, and they each connect to either of the forearm bones: the ulna or the radius. A fractured wrist means that any of the 10 bones, including the ulna and radius, have broken. The most common broken wrist bone is the radius, also called a distal radius fracture by orthopedic specialists. Some wrist fractures are stable and only need a cast while they heal; others are often unstable and need to have the bones re-set and monitored closely while they heal.
A hip is considered broken if either the top of the femur or the curved part of the pelvic bone is broken. The hip itself isn’t a bone, but instead a ball and socket joint (the top of the femur is the ball, while the pelvic bone serves as the socket.) While a broken hip is more common in the elderly, it is a serious injury at any age and almost always requires surgery. Common causes for broken hips are falls, car accidents, osteoporosis, and obesity.
Ankle fractures are among the top five most broken bones, despite being one of the most difficult broken bones to diagnose. The cause of a fractured ankle, and the pain related to it, is very similar to a sprain, dislocation, and a tendon injury. It is possible to both sprain an ankle and fracture it at the same time. Without an x-ray, a fractured ankle can easily be misdiagnosed. There are three bones that make up the ankle: tibia, fibula, and talus.
If you have experienced a fall, accident, or direct trauma, and suspect that you may have a broken bone, please go to your local emergency department or contact an orthopedic surgeon.