Fractures and Sprains
The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of fractures and sprains. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is the difference between a fracture and a sprain?
A fracture is a partial or complete break in a bone. An open (or compound) fracture occurs when the bone exits and is visible through the skin or a deep wound. A closed (or simple) fracture occurs when the bone is broken but remains under the skin.
Sprains involve the overstretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the bones in a joint.
What causes fractures and sprains?
Fractures and sprains can be caused by blunt trauma, falls, sudden twisting, and other movements or blows that cause the bone or joint to move in a way that is abnormal or beyond functional motion. Fractures may also occur in older people with osteoporosis or other diseases and conditions that make the bones weak, brittle and susceptible to injury or breaking.
What are the symptoms of fractures and sprains?
With a sprain, you may feel a sharp pain when the injury occurs. Your joint will typically swell, bruise and be tender to the touch. Walking or using the joint can be very painful. Generally, the amount of pain and swelling is a sign of the severity of the sprain.
The symptoms of a fracture may be quite similar to those of a sprain, except in compound fractures or fractures that involve a clear deformity of the joint or limb.
In both sprains and fractures, bruising may also occur as a result of the injury.
Do not attempt to diagnose a fracture or sprain yourself. Always seek medical attention.
How is a fracture or sprain diagnosed?
Your Hurley physician will conduct a complete physical exam of the injured joint or limb, and may order x-rays, an MRI or a CT scan in order to determine the severity and precise location of the injury.
How is a fracture or sprain treated?
The primary objectives of treatment are to control pain, promote healing, prevent complications and restore normal use of the joint or limb. Medications may be recommended or prescribed to help reduce pain and swelling. Some minor sprains and fractures may simply require immobilization in a sling, brace or cast in order to reduce stress on the joint and in the case of a fracture, to allow proper alignment of the broken bone(s).
More serious fractures may require traction, which involves the use of force to stretch certain parts of the body in a specific direction while healing takes place. Surgery may also be required to put bones involved in complex fractures back into place. Some fractures may also require the placement of hardware such as rods, screws, pins or plates, internally and externally, to hold the bone fragments in place while healing occurs.