Understanding The Difference Between Sprains, Strains, And Fractures

All you know right now is that your ankle hurts like the dickens. Is it sprained, strained, or fractured? All you want is for the pain to go away. Understanding the difference between sprains, strains, and fractures can help you know the appropriate measures to relieve the pain before seeing the doctor. The only way to know for certain is to visit Rochester Community Orthopaedics for an evaluation and X-ray.

man with a knee injury from playing tennis What Is A Sprain?

Sprains affect ligaments, the tissue that holds our joints together. It happens when we tear or stretch a ligament. It can be termed mild to significant.

Symptoms you can expect include swelling, pain and discomfort, and being unable to move the area very much. It typically occurs in activities which involve frequent pivots and direction changes like football.

Treatment for a sprain can be bracing to protect the area and encourage healing. The ankle is the most frequently sprained joint.

What Are Strains?

Strains involve tearing of a muscle or tendon. Tendons attach our muscles to the bone.

Symptoms include swelling, difficulty moving the affected area, and pain.

Track and field athletes are susceptible to strains if they don’t warm up sufficiently and stretch their muscles.

Treatment for strains can be done at home using heat, massage, stretching, and rest.

Other treatment for both strains and sprains include RICE:

  • Rest and don’t move the injured area
  • Ice the area right away to prevent inflammation and pain 15 to 20 minutes for  3 or 4 times per day
  • Compression with a compression bandage to reduce swelling
  • Elevation, raise the injured area above the heart

What Is A Fracture?

Fractures are bone breaks which are a more serious injury and extremely painful. You should see Rochester Community Orthopaedics or visit an emergency room immediately with a fracture, especially if the bone is showing through the skin or if you have numbness, weakness, or poor circulation.

Treatments range from immobilization with a cast, traction, or by surgically inserting metal rods or plates to hold the bone pieces together.

Contact Rochester Community Orthopaedics at (585) 218-4337 if pain and swelling do not go away or you think you have broken a bone.