Can You Have a Fracture Without Realizing It?

May 02, 2023

The average person suffers two fractures, or broken bones, in their lifetime. Any number of accidents can lead to a broken bone, from sports injuries to slips and falls.

You might assume that fractures cause immediate pain and swelling, but did you know that’s not always the case? It’s possible for fractures to go unnoticed for a while, until pain or other symptoms begin to develop.

Our team at Cascade Orthopaedics specializes in fracture care in Auburn and Bonney Lake, Washington. In this blog, we’re exploring the possibility of having a fracture without realizing it, and what treatment options are available.

Not all fractures cause obvious symptoms

Although it’s surprising, it’s very possible to have a fracture without realizing it. Some fractures are so small that they don’t cause noticeable symptoms right away. 

Other types of fractures can cause symptoms that are easy to mistake for other conditions. For example, a stress fracture in your foot may have symptoms like a sprain, strain, or even plantar fasciitis.

A few different factors can contribute to a fracture going unnoticed, including the location of the fracture and the severity of the injury. 

Fractures in areas of your body that aren’t weight-bearing (like your ribs or fingers) may be easier to miss. Plus, you may miss more subtle signs of injury if you have a high pain tolerance.

In many cases, you may not even realize you have a fracture until you get an X-ray to diagnose your symptoms.

Treatment options for a bone fracture

If you’re experiencing new or worsening pain or discomfort, get it checked out. It could be a fracture, and fractures usually don’t heal properly on their own.

Our team starts with a comprehensive exam and imaging tests to diagnose the cause of your symptoms. Then, we develop a treatment plan.

Our main goals for treatment are relieving pain, promoting healing, and preventing further damage. A few of the most common treatments for fractures are:


Immobilization involves using a cast, splint, brace, or boot to prevent the affected area from moving. Immobilization helps reduce pain and accelerate healing by allowing your bones to rest in their proper position.

Depending on the location and severity of your fracture, we may recommend immobilization for several weeks or months.

Rest and rehabilitation

Along with immobilization, you need to rest. Rest helps your bones heal, and rehabilitation helps restore function and prevent future injuries as you return to your usual activities.

We monitor your condition during recovery and give you specific instructions to ensure your best possible outcome.


In some cases, we may prescribe medication to manage pain and inflammation caused by your fracture. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective for mild pain., but for more severe pain, stronger prescription pain relievers may be necessary.

Physical therapy

After a period of immobilization, we usually recommend physical therapy as part of rehabilitation from fracture. Physical therapy helps restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected area.

You work with one of our physical therapists, and they guide you through stretches, exercises, and other techniques to improve function and reduce your risk of re-injury.


Most missed fractures aren’t severe. But in some cases, we may recommend surgery to repair the damage and prevent further injury. Depending on your situation, your surgery may involve using pins, screws, plates, or other devices to hold your bones in place while they heal.

If you’ve noticed unusual pain or other symptoms, don’t wait to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Schedule a visit with our orthopaedic specialists online, or call the Cascade Orthopaedics office nearest you today.