Broken bones, sprains, and other injuries often have overlapping symptoms. Sometimes they seem insignificant at first, so you may not know if it’s necessary to seek care. Whether you took a spill on the soccer field or stumbled on the sidewalk, you may wonder whether urgent care is more appropriate or if it warrants an emergency room visit. Either way, when you come to Bayfront Health ER & Urgent Care, you’ll be seen and billed for the appropriate level of care.
Sometimes what you think could be a broken bone is actually a sprain, or vice versa. Usually, fractures (broken bones) are caused by a traumatic injury, like falling or receiving a direct blow.
You may have a fracture if:
By contrast, sprains do not involve your bones but are caused by stretched or torn ligaments. Commonly sprained areas include the ankles, wrists, and elbows, but they are possible at any joint. You may have a sprain if you have soft tissue pain, meaning not the bone itself. Most people who sprain themselves can still bear weight, even if it’s painful. You may notice swelling or bruising around the injured area or lack of mobility in the affected area.
Bruises are quite common. They occur when damaged blood cells collect under the skin and come near the surface, resulting in the familiar black and blue discoloration. Bruises often are caused by accidentally bumping into something or an object bumping into you. Sometimes bruises occur for no apparent reason, usually because of a bleeding disorder. Older people are also more likely to bruise because the skin becomes thinner in the aging process. People who take blood thinners also are at greater risk of bruising.
Seek medical care if you think you have a broken bone or sprain along with the bruise, or if the bruise causes extreme pain. If your bruise does not heal within a week or two, it should be evaluated by a doctor. If a blow to the head caused your bruise, it’s extremely important to go to the nearest emergency room for diagnosis and treatment.