Frequently Asked Questions About Broken Bones

At Henry Ford Health System, we believe that educating and informing our patients empowers them to maintain optimal health. This list of frequently asked questions is a good place to begin when you want to learn about the treatments we offer for broken bones and orthopedic trauma.

Common questions about bone care


What’s the difference between a fracture and a broken bone?

A fracture — regardless of how “small” or “simple” it is — is a broken bone. That’s why it requires prompt medical care. Orthopedic specialists throughout the Henry Ford Health System care for fractures of all kinds. Henry Ford Hospital has 3 orthopedic trauma surgeons on staff, who excel at treating even the most complex broken bones. Learn more about misconceptions of orthopedic trauma.

How can you tell if my bone is broken?

Our orthopedic doctors will do a physical exam and likely conduct an imaging test to get a closer look at the issue. Learn more about how to tell if you have a fracture or sprain.

What’s the advantage of being treated at a Level I trauma center?

As a Level I trauma center, Henry Ford Hospital is equipped to handle the most complex traumas. These accidents often require expertise from doctors in multiple fields. Our hospital has specialists on staff who are used to working together to handle the most complex cases.

I may have broken a bone. Should I go to the ER or the walk-in clinic?

That depends on the injury. If you have an obvious fracture or the limb seems deformed or out of place, go directly to the emergency room. If you think you have a sprain or aren’t sure whether you’ve broken a bone, you can be seen at a walk-in clinic. Orthopedic traumas are best treated at Henry Ford Hospital, as it is a Level I trauma center with 3 orthopedic trauma surgeons on staff. If you have questions about which location you should visit, call the walk-in center. Learn more about what we do at our walk-in clinics.

Where are your walk-in clinics located?

We have walk-in orthopedic clinics at Henry Ford Allegiance, Henry Ford Medical Center - Columbus, Henry Ford Medical Center – Chesterfield, and Henry Ford Medical Center - Fairlane.

What kinds of doctors and medical professionals do you have on staff?

We offer orthopedic doctors and nurses at all of our hospitals. Henry Ford Hospital is a Level I trauma center with 3 orthopedic trauma surgeons as well as trauma-trained advanced practice providers (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) on staff. Our locations that provide orthopedic rehabilitation include therapists as well.

I have a bone that I don’t think healed correctly. What should I do?

We can assist with bones that didn’t heal correctly. Request an appointment with our orthopedic surgeons for a consultation.

How can I tell if I have a bone infection?

Common symptoms of bone infection include fever, swelling, limping, nausea and drainage.

I’d like a waterproof cast. Do you have those?

We are happy to offer these when they are appropriate for your injury. We do not charge extra for waterproof casts.

When can I return to work? When can I start driving? When can I play sports again?

That depends on your injury. Your orthopedist will determine when you can resume regular activities. Typically, you can resume some activities between 6 weeks and 6 months after an orthopedic trauma.

Will I need physical or occupational therapy?

Your orthopedic doctor will determine if you need physical or occupational therapy. Henry Ford Health System has a vast network of orthopedic rehabilitation centers.

How long do I have to stay off a broken bone?

Broken bones can take up to several months to heal. Your orthopedic doctor can let you know a specific amount of time based on your condition and the extent of the injury.

Can a boot be used instead of a cast for a broken bone?

Yes, in some cases.

I think I may have osteoporosis. Do you treat that?

The Henry Ford Bone Health and Fracture Prevention Clinic provides bone health testing. Our doctors can tell you if you may benefit from visiting this clinic.

What can I do to make sure a healed bone doesn’t break again?

Follow your doctor’s orders after a bone trauma or surgery. Contact us if you suspect something is wrong and talk to your orthopedist about visiting our Bone Health and Fracture Prevention Clinic.

I have hip/shoulder/knee pain. Should I see an orthopedic doctor first?

Yes. Pain can signal a larger problem. Left untreated, issues can worsen over time.

Do you offer any financial support? Do you take patients without insurance?

We're committed to providing affordable, high-quality care. For true medical emergencies, we provide care regardless of your ability to pay at the time services are provided. Learn more about our Cost of Care measures or find out how to pay a bill.

What if I need to ask the doctor questions after my visit?

MyChart is a digital platform that connects patients and doctors so they can communicate after a visit or procedure. Set up an account or login to MyChart here.

Feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.

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