Broken or Sprained: 5 Ways to Tell

Posted on October 18, 2018

Category: Physical Injury Signs and Symptoms

You don’t know what’s wrong, but you know it hurts. This is the case for many people who suffer from sprained and broken joints. Without the proper training, it’s difficult to know for sure, so we’ve provided 5 signs to help you figure out what’s wrong quickly.

  1. Sprained Ankle
    A sprained ankle is caused by damage to the ligaments in your ankle. The purpose of a ligament is to attach your bones to one another, and they’re meant to stretch. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments in your ankle have either torn or stretched further than they are meant to. Sprained ankles are usually silent (no “popping” noise), generally very painful, and can have weight put on them relatively quickly after an accident.
  2. Broken Ankle (Ankle Fracture)
    A broken or fractured ankle happens when one or more of the bones in your ankle breaks. Because there are several bones in your ankle, a break can vary greatly in severity depending upon how many of those bones you have broken. This can make it difficult to differentiate a break from a sprain. In general, if you are completely unable to walk after injuring your ankle, it is safe to assume it is a break. Though you may be unable to walk, a broken ankle tends to be associated with more mild pain than a sprained ankle. Another telltale sign of a break is the bone looking deformed or out of place.
  3. Sprained Wrist
    Wrist sprains often occur as the result of damage to the scapholunate ligament. Sprained wrists are sometimes described as being more painful than a broken wrist. Sprained wrists have been known to be associated with sharp, severe pain, whereas broken wrists can feel mild to dull pain, or even numbness.
  4. Broken Wrist (Wrist Fracture)
    The most common form of wrist fracture is a distal radius fracture. This fracture frequently occurs when you have attempted to catch yourself while falling and takes place on the same side of the wrist as the thumb. Much like with a broken ankle, the biggest indicator of a broken or fractured wrist is a noticeable physical deformity in the shape of the wrist.
  5. Other Sprains and Breaks
    Sprains and breaks also regularly take place on the knee and thumb. In these cases, it is important to remember to look for a physical change in the affected areas other than swelling. If your knee or thumb looks out of place, it is likely a break. Both breaks and sprains are associated with pain, swelling, bruising, and a limited range of motion.

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