Pathologic fracture

Pathologic fracture

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A pathologic fracture is a broken bone brought about by disease instead of an injury. Generally, some health conditions can weaken the bones which makes them prone to damage.

What are the signs?

Generally, a pathologic fracture will not always trigger any symptoms. Once they arise, they share the same signs as an injury-related fracture such as:

  • Mild to intense pain near the site of the broken bone
  • Tenderness, bruising and swelling close to the site of damage
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness close to the broken bone

In some instances, it is hard to differentiate between the signs of a pathologic fracture and an underlying condition that affects the bone.

What are the common causes?

Pathologic fracture
A pathologic fracture will not always trigger any symptoms. Once they arise, they share the same signs as an injury-related fracture.


This is a condition that weakens the bones which makes them likely to break. The signs tend to arise in the late phases of the disease where the bones are weak and brittle.

The condition is common and likely to affect women than men.


This is a condition involving unusual growth of the cells. It can affect any part of the body. Most forms of cancer can invade the bones and weaken them, resulting to breakage.


This condition causes softening of the bones. It is often due to lack of vitamin D which aids with the absorption of calcium.


This is an infection of the bone that can be brought about by a fungal or bacterial infection that spreads to adjacent bone.

Management of a pathologic fracture

Generally, the treatment for a pathologic fracture is based on the root cause. Most conditions weaken the bones but does not affect their capability to heal. In such instances, a cast or splint is needed. Depending on the site of the fracture, it might require a pin, screw or plate to secure the bone in position as it heals.

The individual must take some time to rest and avoid activities that require using parts of the body affected by the fracture during the healing process. The recovery can take several weeks up to months depending on the body part affected.


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