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The Difference Between a Fracture and a Sprain

It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a fracture and a sprain. Both can create swelling and lots of pain. In general, a fracture is a break in one or more bones while a sprain refers to damage of ligaments due to overstretching beyond a normal range of motion. However, again both can be very painful and should be accessed by an orthopaedic specialist.

Let’s Define a Sprain…
Sprains can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms are sudden pain, swelling, bruising and an inability to move the affected area. If the sprain is mild, you may only experience some tenderness when touching the affected area. You may not have any, or only very little, swelling. On the other hand, in severe cases, the swelling may be substantial and the pain intolerable.

Now, Let’s Talk About Fractures…
Fractures are a common type of sports injury. They can also occur from falls or other accidents. However, unlike sprains which many times heal with rest, a fracture always requires medical treatment because a fracture is a broken bone that needs an orthopaedic specialists care to mend. Sometimes, surgery is necessary.

Here’s How We Can Tell the Difference
So, how can you tell a fracture from a sprain? Well, there are a few distinctive signs. First, try to recall if there was a sound when you were injured. Did you hear a “crack” noise? That may be a sign that something has broken while sprains may be associated with a “popping” sound. If the injured bone appears crooked or deformed and swollen, this may be a sign of a fracture. Also, numbness is is an indication of a fracture. Moreover, if you cannot move and are in extreme pain it is likely that something is broken.

If you suspect you have a fracture, call the office of Ortho El Paso immediately to be examined by one of our orthopaedic surgeons, including having an X-ray done. Call 915-249-4000 or schedule at