Fractures, Sprains and Strains: What Do I Have?

man grasping foot in hunched position at a running track

All types of injuries are painful, but the more serious your injury is the more extensive your treatment will be. It all depends on what’s happened inside your body. Have you torn a ligament? Have you fractured your ankle? The signs might not be as obvious as you may have thought. Depending on the severity of your injury, you might want to pay a visit to the Fairfield Urgent Care center to be checked out.

Defining the main differences between fractures, sprains, and strains isn’t an easy task. We’ll guide you through what each type of injury is, the symptoms pertaining to each and what treatment you should seek.

What Causes Breaks, Sprains & Strains?

Every now and then our bodies work overtime. We put pressure on ourselves in ways that we shouldn’t which can cause the occasional strain or sprain or the unfortunate fracture. Here are some common reasons for injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Tripping or falling
  • Exercising (running or jogging)
  • Overexerting your body

The most obvious kind of broken bone or fracture is when a bone is protruding from the skin, which is called an open fracture or compound fracture. During your injury if you happen to hear a pop or grinding sound, this is also an indication.

This is not an easy injury to diagnosis just from looking at it. The best way to know if you have fractured a joint is to receive a proper x-ray.

Signs of a Fracture:

  • You may hear or feel a pop, snap or grinding noise during the injury
  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness of the area
  • Pain when pressure is applied. Either by walking, touching, or pressing
  • Deformity: A joint facing the wrong way

What Happens During a Sprain?

A sprain is basically the stretching and tearing of a ligament- bands of tissue that hold your ankle together. Most of us will confuse a sprain with a break because the pain level is comparable. More often than not, a sprain will occur in the ankle.

Symptoms of a Sprain:

  • Pain, Swelling, Bruising,
  • A possible “pop” during the injury
  • Limited range of motion

What Happens During a Strain?

A strain is an injury that occurs in a muscle or tendon (fibrous cords of tissues that connect bone and muscle). Strains come in three grades depending on the damage that has happened. A Grade 1 strain is the stretching of a few muscle fibers, Grade 2 is when more muscle fibers have been damaged or torn and Grade 3 is when the muscle completely ruptures.

Symptoms of a Strain:

  • Pain, swelling, muscle spasm
  • Limited mobility and flexibility in the injured area
  • Limited ability in moving the joint’s full range of motion

How Do I Tell A Sprain from a Strain?

If you experience a sprain or a strain, you will have pain and swelling. Both of these injuries will happen because your body is under physical stress. During this time, muscles and joints are performing movements they normally wouldn’t be.

The big difference between the two is that a sprain will have bruising while a strain will bring on muscle spasms. Both types of injury will also affect your mobility.

Treatment for Sprained or Strained Joints

If it turns out that you have a sprain or a strain, there’s a simple method you can followed called the RICE method, which can also be followed for any type of injury.

Start out by resting. Instead of putting weight (on an ankle) or the affected area, try not to move too much. Next, put some ice on the area to help with any swelling. Do this in 15 minute intervals and at least 3-4 times per day. You will also want to have compression on the area. The best way to do that is to wrap the affected area, but not too tightly. You don’t want to restrict any blood flow from the area causing further damage. Your last step is to elevate. If you raise the injured area above your heart, you can increase blood flow and minimize swelling.

Treatment for a Broken Joint

If you are concerned that you have broken or fractured a bone, you will have to meet with your doctor for an examination. The most common way to determine a fracture is by having an x-ray. This will show if your bone is still intact or if it is actually broken. Your doctor will also be able to tell what kind of fracture you have and how to prepare you for the next steps.

On average, a fracture will need several weeks to several months to heal. In order to properly heal, you must follow your doctor’s advice and keep pressure off of the affected joint. If you have a fractured ankle or leg, you will most likely need physical therapy to follow the removal of a cast.

Need To Be Seen Immediately?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms for fractures, sprains or strains, you should seek medical attention immediately. Here at DOCS Urgent Care (located in many towns including Fairfield, Bethel, and Norwalk) our walk-in clinic experts can help you with our x-ray imaging services. It’s best advised that you don’t leave any injury untreated. Seek help today to prevent further damage from occurring. Come in for a no-wait consultation or call us beforehand to schedule an appointment: 203-617-0319