Sprain vs. Fracture: How to Tell If It’s a Broken Bone

Falls, car accidents, and sports trauma can all lead to injuries ranging in severity from mild to severe. Sprains and fractures are something you may have experienced from any one of those mechanisms. Getting early treatment for the more severe injuries can save you a lot of pain down the road.

At the Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico, we can help you determine the extent of your injury, no matter what the cause. Dr. Omar Osmani is a skilled orthopedic surgeon who’s able to determine if you’ve sustained a fracture, and he can offer many treatment options to get you back to your busy life.

Sprain vs. Fracture — What’s the difference?

Sprains and fractures can have a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it difficult for you to determine which one you’ve sustained in an injury. However, the difference is pretty simple — a fracture is a break in your bone, while a sprain is a soft tissue injury. 

Sprains happen when the ligaments around your joint either stretch too far or tear. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as a fall or a sports injury. Sprains can be mild or severe, and have a variety of symptoms including:

You can usually treat mild-to-moderate sprains at home with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. Occasionally a sprain will be severe enough that surgery is required for it to heal properly.

Fractures most often occur from some kind of trauma such as a car accident or a severe fall. When you break a bone in your body, one of the first symptoms you’ll notice is immediate pain around the injury. You may also experience:

Unless the bone is actually poking through your skin, you need an X-ray to determine that you’ve sustained a fractured bone. If the fracture is severe, you may also need an MRI or CAT scan to rule out damage to other structures such as ligaments, tendons, and muscle.

Although sprains and fractures are very different, they share a lot of the same symptoms, so it’s important for you to get medical treatment if you’re unsure of your injury.

When to see a doctor

A broken bone and sprains can cause you a lot of discomfort. If you’ve suffered a severe fracture and part of your bone is piercing through your skin, seek immediate medical attention. When you aren’t sure whether or not you should seek expert care, keep in mind the following reasons that you should get help immediately:

Determining the need for urgent medical assistance can save you from long-term complications that can arise by delaying medical intervention. If you’re ever unsure, come in and see us to ensure your injury is treated promptly. 

We are one of the only orthopedic urgent care facilities in Roswell, making us a great choice for your orthopedic needs. Emergency rooms can have long waits and usually don’t specialize, specifically in orthopedic injuries, like we do. 

Treatment options for a broken bone

When Dr. Osmani determines that you have a broken bone, he goes over your treatment options with you. The type of treatment that you need depends on where the fracture is and how severely the bone is broken. 

With a mild fracture, you may only need to have the bone reduced,which is a medical term for putting your bone back into its normal alignment.  A cast can then be applied and  may be made out of fiberglass or plaster. The cast helps to keep your bones aligned while the fracture heals. 

If you’ve suffered a more severe broken bone, you may require more invasive treatment to ensure that your bones heal completely and properly. These types of treatments may include:

All of the above treatments will require you to undergo surgery and anesthesia. These treatments are only considered if you’ve sustained a broken bone that’s bad enough to warrant the risks of surgery, or if conservative treatment hasn’t worked. 

If you find yourself injured and wondering if you may have broken a bone, call our office today at 575-623-9101 or book an appointment with one of our providers online.

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