Improperly Healed Broken Bones

A malunion fracture is a condition that occurs when the ends of a broken bone do not line up properly as the bone heals. The condition can cause a bone that is twisted, rotated or bent. It may change the length and make the bone shorter than normal. If left untreated, malunion fractures can cause joint instability, arthritis and loss of function.

Malunion fractures happen more often in severe breaks than in minor fractures. They can result when the fractured bone does not get enough oxygen or nutrients to promote healing. Insufficient stability during healing can also lead to malunion fractures.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Malunion fractures can occur in any broken bone. Symptoms tend to begin after the bone’s initial healing and vary depending on the affected bone and severity of the malunion.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, discomfort and bone tenderness
  • Swelling and tenderness in the affected area
  • Visible deformity like twisted, bent or shortened bone
  • Difficulty bearing weight
  • Decreased function
  • Inability to flex the affected joint

To diagnose a malunion fracture, the orthopaedic specialists at Penn State Health conduct a thorough physical examination and review your medical history. Additional testing may include:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Range of motion and symmetry assessment

With proper treatment, many malunion fractures are able to heal correctly. Depending on the location and severity of the break, you may require physical therapy to regain muscle strength, range of motion and function.

Experts in Care

Meet our doctors, view their profiles and select the one that’s right for you.

Find a doctor near you

Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

Learn more about support groups offered

Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

Find a location near you