Common Conditions

A Break or a Sprain: Spotting the Difference

If you’ve ever been injured and felt pain, it may have been difficult to determine what type of injury it was at first. Was it a break, or was it a sprain? Before going to the doctor and getting an X ray, you likely didn’t know how to spot the difference.

That’s why we came up with some helpful tips to help determine the difference between a break or a sprain. Why is it so important to distinguish between the two types of injuries? Well, there might be a situation in the future when you, or a loved one, may need this information the most.

What is a Break?

A break is a chip, fracture, or an actual break in the bone. Breaks can be caused by a variety of things, such as sports, bone loss, or accidents. A broken bone always needs advising and care from a medical professional. This will help ensure proper healing.

Breaks, also known as fractures, come in different forms. So, what is a hairline fracture? Also known as a stress fracture, these occur when repeated use and actions cause stress on the bone. This stress forms a small crack or bruise.

Movement is limited when a bone break occurs. The bone may pierce through the skin in some instances, and it could also be bleeding. Deformities are a common sign of bone breaks. These should receive medical attention right away.

Treating Breaks

Right away: If a suspected broken bone just happened, first stop any bleeding that is present, don’t move the injured area, apply ice packs to the area, and lay the person down if they feel faint. Call for emergency help.

After some time has passed: Make sure you are checking up on your break with the consultation of a doctor. Follow their instructions, whether it be what to eat or how often to attend physical therapy. The healing process requires a lot of patience.

What is a Sprain?

Unlike bone breaks, sprains tear or stretch ligaments in the body, which is the tissue connecting two bones. Sprains can be from any injuries that cause stress to a joint by overstretching it. Falls and twists are common causes of sprains. Swelling, bruising, and inflammation are common signs of a sprain. The ankle is the joint most prone to spraining.

Sprains can hurt just as bad as a break, but the telltale signs are different. Do you recall hearing a “popping” sound when the injury occurred? As long as limbs do not look out of place, that sound can still indicate a sprain. If you are still able to control the body part, you may just have a sprain.

Treating Sprains

A common tip for effectively healing a sprain is to start RICE right away. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Rest: Make sure to keep the sprained body part as imobile as possible during the healing process. This is the best way to allow the healing process to start.

Ice: The cold reduces inflammation, which can lead to faster healing. Cover the sprained body part with an ice pack for about 20 minutes.

Compression: Using an elastic bandage, wrap the sprained area to compress it and reduce swelling. Be sure that it’s not so tight that it could cut off your blood supply.

Elevation: Keep your sprained area elevated above your heart. It doesn’t matter what position you lay in, as long as the sprained body part is elevated.

If you are in the Walnut Creek area and think you have a break or sprain, reach out to BASS Advanced Urgent Care today. Our experienced doctors will evaluate your condition and deliver quality care.