How Can I Tell If My Nose Is Broken?
The most obvious sign of a nasal fracture is a distorted appearance to you nose. If you have received substantial nasal trauma and your nose has an immediate crooked appearance, it is very likely that you have broken your nose.
A cracked bone in the noes will also be quite tender. If there is definite tenderness over a certain part of the nasal bone then it is possible that you have suffered some degree of nasal fracture. Most nasal fractures result in a bloody nose and black eyes.
If you have not suffered a bloody nose and do not have black eyes and do not have tenderness, then it is very unlikely that you have suffered any significant nasal fracture. (John J. Edney, MD, Omaha Plastic Surgeon)
Signs of a broken nose
As a facial plastic surgeon who deals with broken noses every month, there are a few signs that will indicate a broken nose. To be fair, there is no true indication that a nose is broken except a crooked nose.
Nonetheless, if a crack was heard with the injury, if you have difficulty breathing through your nose for the first 2-5 days after injury, if there is an obvious deviation of the external bridge of your nose, or if there is pain and swelling over the nasal bridge, it may indicate that the nose is broken.
A broken nose needs an exam by a plastic surgeon who specializes in noses. Usually, an x-ray or CT scan is not necessary and examination alone can diagnose a fracture or any associated internal injury such as to the septum. (Mike Majmundar, MD, Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon)
How can you tell if your nose is broken?
The nasal bones are the most commonly broken bones in the body. They are relatively small, relatively thin, and they stick out from the face without much protection. If you are the recipient of blunt trauma to the nose, here’s how you might be able to tell if the nose is broken:
- you might hear or feel a “crack” at the time of the injury,
- there will be a robust nosebleed,
- you might develop undereye bruising and swelling,
- the nose can look crooked, or
- you can no longer breathe through your nose.
All of these conditions do not have to be met, but in my considerable experience, one or more of them will commonly occur if the nose bones or septum is fractured. Don’t forget, the nasal bones can break but not be crooked since some fractures are what we call “nondisplaced,” meaning the bones are broken, but straight.
In this instance, surgery is not recommended since the nose will likely heal straight. Displaced nasal bone fractures are ideally treated in the first 5-7 days after the injury, so call your favorite plastic surgeon ASAP. But don’t worry, if you miss the window of opportunity, you can always have a rhinoplasty to reshape your nose about 3 months after the fracture. (Randolph Capone, MD, Baltimore Facial Plastic Surgeon)
Broken nose or not?
Let the swelling resolve, could take 2-3 weeks. If nose looks normal to you, not crooked and you can breathe, you are ok. If not, see a plastic surgeon is you want to make changes. (Jeffrey Ditesheim, MD, FACS, Charlotte Plastic Surgeon)
Two Ways To Tell
There are two ways to tell if your nose is broken:
- Visit an experienced physician and have the physician examine both the inside and outside of your nose.
- Have an x-ray or a CT scan to determine if the nose is broken.
Broken noses can present problems both esthetically and functionally–they may not look like they did before the break and you may have a more difficult time breathing if the septum has been damaged. (Farhan Taghizadeh, MD, Albuquerque Facial Plastic Surgeon)
It is hard to tell if your nose is broken
After the swelling has resolved if your nose looks the same as it did before and you can breathe properly it does not matter whether or not your nose was broken. Plain film x rays have very little use in identifying nasal bone fractures and do not help with the management. (Robert Mounsey, MD, Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon)
It’s difficult to tell without an in person office visit. I would recommend waiting a couple of days to see if the swelling and pain subsides. If you are still concerned, you should make an appointment to get it checked by a facial plastic surgeon. (Carlo Honrado, MD, FACS, Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon)
Signs and symptoms of a broken nose
There are broken noses that have shifted structures enough to change the way the nose looks and functions and there are broken noses that will not have any long term changes. A broken nose is almost always accompanied by bleeding, swelling, bruising, and pain on palpation of the bridge of the nose. The bridge may also be visible shifted over as well as loose when it is manipulated. (Remus Repta, MD, Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon)
How to know if your nose was broken
There are several things that can suggest that your nose was broken. The first is a clear outward deformity (new twist) that is visible after the swelling has come down. Another is whether the nasal bones are mobile. In general, testing for mobility is painful, so you may not want to do it.
Other signs of possible breaks bleeding from the nose, and increased stuffiness after a 1-2 week period (after initial swelling goes down). A CT scan of the nose is pretty good at picking up breaks and a conventional x-ray is just ok.
Imaging the nose after a possible nasal fracture is usually not needed. Instead an examination by a surgeon who does a lot of nasal surgery is best. If on exam your nose suggests a nasal fracture, you may need surgical intervention. (Michael M. Kim, MD, Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon)
How to Determine if a Nose is Broken
Broken noses typically refer to fractures of the nasal bones. Nasal injuries are usually from sports, motor vehicle accidents, fights, or falls. Unfortunately, a broken nose may also be the result of domestic violence or abuse.
A small crack of the bones might result without any change in external appearance.
However, a broken nose is usually obvious due to a variety of symptoms and signs, including: shift in appearance with a deviated, crooked, or twisted nosebruising and swelling inside and/or outside the nose, tenderness, especially at the bridge of the nose, black eyes (dark bruises around the eyes) swollen skincuts, scratches, abrasions, or lacerationsnasal congestion or blockagenose bleed.
Depending upon the nature of the trauma and extent of the injury, an initial evaluation is normally performed at an emergency room.
Sometimes further testing with a CT scan is require not only to visualize the nose, but also adjacent facial areas which may have been injured.If you suspect a nasal fracture, you should be evaluated by a plastic surgeon, otolaryngologist, or facial plastic surgeon within one week of the injury. A broken nose is normally repaired within the first couple weeks after injury. (Houtan Chaboki, MD, Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon)
If you are concerned that you may have a broken nose, it is important to see a specialist to examine the inside and outside of your nose. It is best to do this within the first week of the trauma. Keep your head elevated at night and the swelling will come down in order to see if there are any changes in the shape of your nose. Bring photographs to your nose specialist so they can see what your nose normally looks like. This can help with the examination. (Richard A. Zoumalan, MD, Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon)
Nasal Fracture-crooked nose
My take on a possible nasal fracture is to only consider the two reasons to address a nasal fracture:
- after swelling has resolved (approx 5-7 days) and there is still a significant decrease or change in the nasal airway.
- after the swelling has resolved and the nose appears from a cosmetic standpoint noticeably different.
If neither of these scenarios occur then there is no need to address a nasal fracture. It is however important if one or both of these scenarios exist that you are seen by a physician with significant experience in treating nasal fractures. If surgery, such as a closed reduction of nasal bones, is needed then the procedure should be performed within 14 days of the injury prior to the nasal bones setting. One additional item to consider is possible insurance coverage of a nasal procedure, such as an open reduction of the nasal fracture(typically preformed 4-6 months after injury), may require medical documentation of the trauma and the findings noted by the physician. (George T. Moynihan, MD, Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon)