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Spiral Fracture: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Healing Time

What is a Spiral Fracture?

There are different types of fractures depending on the type of injury. Spiral Fracture is a type of fracture which occurs as a result of a rotational or a twisting injury. It is also known as Torsion Fracture. Spiral fracture almost always results in the bones being broken into two pieces. A Spiral Fracture resembles a spiral staircase and the break occur diagonal to the bone and in almost all the cases occurs in the long bones of the body. Such fractures are normally caused due to a high impact injury such as a motor vehicle crash or fall from a decent height.

What is a Spiral Fracture?

A direct blow to the bone with a heavy object can also cause a Spiral Fracture. Such fractures can be categorized as stable and displaced. A stable Spiral Fracture occurs when the bones do not move out of their normal alignment while a displaced Spiral Fracture occurs when the bones move out of their alignment.

What are the Causes of Spiral Fracture?

Spiral Fractures occur when a part of the body, normally the foot, stays still while the body is still motion causing excessive pressure on the foot to an extent that the bone breaks. These events usually occur during contact sports like football and rugby or a slip and fall accident. The most common area where a spiral fracture occurs is the tibia, although they may occur in any long bone of the body. A sudden forceful twist of the extremity may also result in a Spiral Fracture. Small children when physically abused are more likely to get a Spiral Fracture. The bones of the fingers are also prone to Spiral Fractures if they are twisted forcefully.

What are the Symptoms of Spiral Fracture?

Pain and swelling at the site of the injury is the main symptom of a Spiral Fracture. The mo-re severe the fracture is the more severe the pain will be. The range of motion of the affected extremity also gets restricted. There will also be visible deformity at the injury site. If there is a break in the skin along with the fracture there will be bleeding and the bone will be protruding out from the surface of the skin.

How is Spiral Fracture Diagnosed?

If an individual has incurred an injury which may be indicative of a spiral fracture then it is vital for the individual to tell the physician exactly about the events leading to the injury. This will help the physician come up with an accurate type of fracture sustained. A full physical examination of the affected area will then follow looking for areas of swelling, tenderness, deformity, and restriction in range of motion. The physician will then order radiological studies to confirm the diagnosis of a Spiral Fracture.

How is Spiral Fracture Treated?

An individual who has sustained a Spiral Fracture will have uneven ends of the bone. This may somewhat complicate things and delay the healing process. The physician will decide on the treatment of a spiral fracture based on the extent of the injury and whether the fracture is open or closed. If it is a stable or closed fracture then immobilization is the mode of treatment. This can be done by way of casting or using a splint or a sling and allowing the bone to heal.

For open or unstable fractures, the patient will require surgery to first realign the bone fragments with the help of screws and rods and then immobilizing the area to allow the fracture to heal. The surgical procedure is called as open reduction internal fixation.

During the healing phase the patient will be given pain medications for pain relief. Once healing is complete, the patient will be sent for physical therapy for strengthening and range of motion exercises to get rid of the stiffness arising due to immobilization.

What is the Healing Time for a Spiral Fracture?

It takes anywhere around four to six months for a spiral fracture to heal in adults while for children healing may occur faster. It is extremely vital to get immediate attention if an individual suspects a Spiral Fracture as a delay in treatment may prolong the healing time.


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Fractures (Broken Bones). OrthoInfo. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/fractures-broken-bones
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Fractures (Broken Bones). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14799-broken-bones-fractures
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2023

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