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Fractures, Sprains & Bruising

Accidents Happen, but We Can Help

Broken bones, sprains, and other injuries often have overlapping symptoms, and sometimes they seem insignificant at first, so you may not know whether it’s necessary to take a trip to your local emergency room or urgent care. Whether you took a spill on the soccer field or stumbled on the sidewalk, you may wonder whether it’s worth going to the ER. Your best bet? Have your fractures, severe sprains, or bruises evaluated by a doctor for the best treatment outcome.

Did I break a bone or is it a sprain?

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:

  • You have swelling or bruising at the injury site.
  • Your limb(s) look(s) deformed.
  • The pain gets worse when direct pressure is applied.
  • You cannot bear weight on an injured leg, ankle, or foot.
  • Your limbs are immobile in the injury area.
  • You heard a cracking sound at the time of the injury.
  • Your bone protrudes from the skin.

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 in the injured area or lack of mobility in the affected area.

Are bruises serious enough to go to the ER?

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 caused by tears in the blood vessels. 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 are also at risk of bruising.

You should seek medical care if you think you have sustained a broken bone or sprain along with the bruise or if the bruise caused extreme pain. If your bruise does not heal within a week or two, it should be evaluated by a doctor, as well. If you have suffered a blow to the head that caused your bruise, it’s extremely important to go to the nearest ER for diagnosis and treatment.

Have you sustained a possible fracture or sprain, or do you have a severe bruise? Our team at ProMedica Toledo Hospital Emergency and Urgent Care is here to help.