Is it a Sprain or a Fracture?

At AFC Urgent Care in Danbury we often have people walking…or limping!- in to our urgent care centers  unsure if they have a sprain or a fracture.

After a long winter of hibernation and too much snow, everyone is eager now to get out and play. Sometimes, however , we play too hard and sustain injuries, especially our kids who are playing spring sports such as baseball, soccer and lacrosse.

So is it a sprain or a fracture and what is the difference between the two?

First of all, lets clarify that a fracture and a break are the same thing. Broken bones, fractures, (or breaks), can only happen to bones.
Sprains, on the other hand, apply to soft tissue. A sprain occurs when you wrench or twist the ligaments of (an ankle, wrist, or other joint) violently so as to cause pain and swelling, but not dislocation.

Ligaments connect bone to bone, tendons connect bone to muscle. You can sprain any of these.

How do you distinguish between a break and a sprain? Obviously if there is any sort of deformity, in other words if you can see a bone protruding in the wrong spot, you can be sure it is a break or a fracture.
For those types of injuries you should more than likely go to the hospital emergency room.
However, if there is bruising and swelling we would need to perform and x-ray to diagnosis the problem. A sprain will not show up in an x-ray; only bones, which are made up of calcium phosphate will.
At  our providers are well trained to interpret x-rays, which are also transmitted to radiology techs for an “over-read”. If there is a break, we would either set the bone or stabilize it.
We also have the ability to create a CD of the x-ray which you can bring with you to an orthopedist if it is deemed necessary.

Preventing sprains and breaks:

Of course we’d like to try to prevent breaks and sprains before they occur, and the best way to do that is with stretching exercises prior to working out, running or playing a sport, by being properly padded when playing contact sports
and by wearing a helmut when appropriate to guard against head injuries or concussions.

If  there is any need for an evaluation, x-ray or treatment feel free to come into our urgent care centers, either at 2 Main Street or 100 Mill Plain Road in Danbury, no appointment necessary.

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