Broken bones are painful, which is the most common symptom that will prompt a person to seek medical care. Swelling, bruising, and tenderness are the other common symptoms. Because the body tries to protect itself, walking may be too painful or the patient will present with a limp. If the bones are significantly displaced (the bone alignment has been lost or there is an associated joint dislocation) a deformity of the foot may be apparent.
In patients with altered pain sensation due to peripheral neuropathy (persons with diabetes are a classic example), pain may not be present, so a fracture may be missed initially. This may also occur in patients with spinal cord injury. Bruising, swelling, and deformity may be the only clues to a potential fracture.
Infants and toddlers may ignore the pain of injury, and they may present to the health care practitioner refusing to bear weight on their leg. The child may sit comfortably on the parent's lap without complaint until asked or made to stand.
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