Broken Bones & Sprains: Emergency room or Urgent Care? 

Broken Bones & Sprains: Emergency room or Urgent Care? 

Apr 01, 2023

Broken bones and sprains are two distinct types of injuries affecting the bones and joints. They often feature different causes, symptoms, and treatments. If you suspect to have sustained an injury, seek immediate care for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What Is A Broken Bone?

It is also known as a fracture. It occurs when there is a complete or partial break in a bone in the body. Broken bones can be due to many factors, such as falls, sports injuries, car accidents, or osteoporosis.

The common symptoms of a broken bone can include the following:

  1. Pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Bruising
  4. Deformity
  5. Difficulty moving the affected area

What Is A Sprain?

It is an injury to the ligaments that connect bones, usually at a joint. Sprains typically happen due to sudden twisting or wrenching motion, such as in a sports injury or a fall.

The symptoms of a sprain can be quite similar to those of a fracture, including pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and difficulty moving the affected joint.

What Is the Difference Between Broken Bones and Sprains?

​By definition, fractures and sprains are different injuries. A fracture defines a complete or partial break in a bone, while sprains involve a stretching or tearing of ligaments. Therefore, you need a doctor in an ER near you to diagnose your condition properly before administering any treatment. Other areas of distinction for sprains and fractures are:

  1. Symptoms : Some symptoms of fractures are unique from sprains. For instance, if you have a broken bone, you may experience a visible deformity or a popping sound at the time of injury.
  2. Healing time : Broken bones generally take longer to heal than sprains. The healing time often depends on the severity of the fracture and the age and overall health of the patient. It can take several weeks or months for a bone to heal completely. Sprains, on the other hand, can take a few days to several weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the injury.
  3. Treatment options : Treatment for a broken bone may include immobilization with a cast or brace, surgery to realign the bone, and physical therapy to restore function. Meanwhile, the treatment for a sprain may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE protocol), as well as physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint and prevent future injuries.

Common Causes of Sprains and Fractures

Usually, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of a sprain or fracture. Examples include, weak bones, health problems like osteoporosis, poor balance and coordination, and participating in high-contact sports. Still, there are mild differences between the main causes of sprains vs. fractures.

  1. Causes of sprains : Sudden twisting or turning of a joint.
  2. Falling – particularly on an outstretched arm or hand or a twisted ankle.
  3. Participating in sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, such as basketball or soccer
  4. Walking or running on an uneven surface
  5. Lifting or carrying heavy objects

Causes of fractures:

  1. Trauma or injury to the bone – common due to a fall, car accident, or sports injury.
  2. Overuse or repetitive stress on a bone – usually due to activities such as running or jumping.
  3. Age-related bone loss or osteoporosis.
  4. Certain medical conditions can weaken the bones – including cancer and osteogenesis imperfecta.

Do You Need Emergency Care for Sprains or Fractures?

Generally, we advise patients to seek urgent care at Express Emergency Room Harker Heights for any injury. Yourself, you may not always have an accurate understanding of the type of injury you have. Get a diagnosis so you can treat your limbs correctly. An easy way to know you need to visit an emergency room in Harker Heights, TX, is by considering the symptoms.

For fractures:

  1. Severe pain
  2. A visibly deformed or misshapen limb
  3. A bone protruding through the skin
  4. Inability to move or bear weight on the affected limb
  5. Numbness or tingling in the affected area
  6. Blue or pale skin around the affected area
  7. Loss of consciousness or severe disorientation

For sprains:

  1. Severe pain or swelling
  2. Inability to move the affected joint
  3. Numbness or tingling in the affected area
  4. Blue or pale skin around the affected area
  5. An audible popping sound at the time of injury
  6. Loss of consciousness or severe disorientation

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