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    Diagnosis begins immediately with an individual's own observation of symptoms. A thorough medical history and physical exam by a physician often reveals the presence of a fracture. An x ray of the injured area is the most common test used to determine the presence of a bone fracture. Any x ray series performed involves at least two views of the area to confirm the presence of the fracture because not all fractures are apparent on a single x ray. Some fractures are often difficult to see and may require several views at different angles to see clear fracture lines. In some cases, CT, MRI or other imaging tests are required to demonstrate fracture. Sometimes, especially with children, the initial x ray may not show any fractures but repeat seven to 14 days later may show changes in the bone(s) of the affected area. If a fracture is open and occurs in conjunction with soft tissue injury, further laboratory studies are often conducted to determine if blood loss has occurred.

    In the event of exercise-related stress fractures (micro-fractures due to excessive stress), a tuning fork can provide a simple, inexpensive test. The tuning fork is a metal instrument with a stem and two prongs that vibrate when struck. If an individual has increased pain when the tuning fork is placed on a bone, such as the tibia or shinbone, the likelihood of a stress fracture is high. Bone scans also are helpful in detecting stress fractures. In this diagnostic procedure, a radioactive tracer is injected into the bloodstream and images are taken of specific areas or the entire skeleton by CT or MRI.

    Source: The Gale Group. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.";

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