Is it a Sprain or Fracture? When Do I Need Professional Care?

sprain or fracture

Your ankle really hurts. It really hurts, and you can’t remember the differences between a sprain or fracture.

You’re not sure if you need to visit a local urgent care center, but you’d rather not go through the hassle if you don’t have to.

Determining the difference between a sprain and fracture is simple enough—if you know the tell-tale signs.

Read on to learn the difference between a sprained ankle vs. a fracture and whether you need to seek out professional care or not.

Signs of a Sprain or Fracture

There are several signs of fractures and sprains, some of which are very similar. If you’re unsure which symptoms accompany a sprain or fracture, see the following:

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness or difficulty moving the joint
  • Bruising
  • Feeling a pop or tear
  • Pain which worsens with movement
  • Deformity
  • Hot to the touch

You might have only one or two of the above symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, you should visit an urgent care center near you like Coastal Urgent Care.

Differences Between a Sprain and a Fracture

Of course, some sprains do need a brace and all fractures need to be X-rayed, but knowing the symptoms of fractures and sprains doesn’t tell you the difference between the two. 

A Fracture

A break or fracture in your ankle bones (i.e. tibia, fibula, talus) can happen from severe force affecting the joint, rolling your ankle to the side, extreme flexing, or extension of the joint. 

There are various types of breaks that can happen to a bone, some of which require more extensive treatment like surgery. Some types of fractures only require a cast or brace, while others don’t require anything but time and no pressure on the bone to allow your ankle time to heal. Fractures take much longer to heal and your doctor will advise the best treatment.

A Sprain

A sprained ankle means damage occurred to the ligaments of the joint. This is also known as soft tissue damage. Ligaments connect bones to other bones.

Sprains typically only require time to heal properly and may only require bracing if you have to use the ankle before it’s done healing. If you don’t take care of a sprained ankle, it can lead to chronic pain or joint instability and arthritis in the joint.

Usually, treatment for a sprain involves:

  • Time to rest
  • Ice to reduce swelling
  • Compression with an ankle wrap
  • And elevating the foot to reduce swelling

Depending on the severity of the sprain, you’ll be good in a few days or weeks. 

Where to Go Next

If you’ve been able to determine, base on the above information, the severity of your injury and you only have a sprain, you won’t need to visit an urgent care center.

If you’re unsure and the pain is so severe, visit Coastal Urgent Care to receive the answer and treatment you need for your sprain or fracture. Be sure to visit our website for more helpful information.