What is a broken nose?
A broken nose, or nasal fracture, is significant damage to the bones and cartilage in the central part of the face. Any facial injury, including accidental falls, can cause a broken nose. Broken noses make breathing difficult and can alter your appearance.
Your doctor diagnoses a broken nose with a physical examination. In some cases, you might need X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans to determine the extent of your injury.
More complicated breaks require bone repositioning and casting. In severe cases, surgery corrects a broken nose. Less severe broken noses usually don’t need treatment.
Who is most at risk for a broken nose?
People participating in contact sports are more at risk for a broken nose. Also, people with balance or mobility issues that make them more prone to falling are at higher risk.
How common is a broken nose?
Broken noses are common. Broken noses make up about 40% of all facial bone injuries.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of a broken nose?
Many people with broken noses have nasal deformities (changes to the shape of the nose). Other symptoms are common, including:
What causes a broken nose?
Facial injuries can cause broken noses. Many broken noses result from minor injuries, like punches or falls.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is a broken nose diagnosed?
Your doctor diagnoses a broken nose by performing a physical examination of your face, head and neck. If your doctor suspects a more serious injury, you may have an X-ray or CT scan. These tests rule out other problems caused by trauma to the face and neck, including fractured bones around your eyes or cervical spine (neck) injuries.
What complications are associated with a broken nose?
Because trauma is the contributing factor to broken noses, people who have a broken nose may have broken bones in other areas of the face. Your physical examination reveals any other broken facial bones, like your jaw or the bones around your eyes.
Management and Treatment
How is a broken nose treated?
Treatment for a broken nose depends on whether your nose is deformed (out of place). If your nose remains in its original position, no treatment is necessary. You will be advised to rest and prevent further injury to your nose.
If your nose is dislocated, you may be sent to a specialist who can reposition your nose by guiding the broken bones back into their original position. After repositioning your nose, the doctor applies a cast, which remains in place for 2 weeks.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to correct your broken nose. People usually have surgery 2–3 months after the injury to allow swelling to subside before the procedure.
Can a broken nose be prevented?
You can prevent a broken nose by wearing appropriate safety equipment while playing sports. You should also avoid fights or other situations where a facial injury is more likely.
Outlook / Prognosis
What are the outcomes after treatment for a broken nose?
Most people recover fully from a broken nose.
When should I call my doctor?
If you sustain a facial injury and believe your nose might be broken, contact your doctor or visit your local emergency department or urgent care. Early evaluation of a broken nose helps rule out more serious complications, like cervical spine (neck) injuries.