Sprains vs. Fractures and What You Need to Know

Every year, weight loss becomes the most popular New Year’s resolution in America. This means that more people are getting active and working out. While getting healthy is a great resolution, make sure you’re not pushing yourself to the point of injury. It’s important that you’re able to identify when an injury has occurred and what treatment is required for you to heal properly. We are going to help you identify how to tell the difference between a sprain and fracture in your fingers and wrists, and when to see a doctor for treatment.

Identifying a Sprain

A sprain occurs when you’ve twisted or overstretched a ligament to the point of pain, but not dislocation. Signs of a sprain are tenderness, swelling, redness, stiffness, bruising, and pain with movement. If you think you’ve sprained your wrist or finger, first remove all accessories, like jewelry or gloves. Then, place an ice pack or cool compress on the injury for 20 minutes to help relieve pain and swelling. If you can, keep your hand or wrist elevated above your heart. You can also take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain and swelling. After 20 minutes, remove the cool compress and gently try and move the limb to prevent stiffening.

Treatment of a finger sprain can be managed at home by either buddy taping or splinting. Splinting should be done on a case-by-case basis, as it limits movement of the limb which can lead to stiffening. Before taping or splinting, you should consult your doctor. If you are unable to move the limb, or the pain has not subsided, there is a chance you may have a fracture. In addition, if the pain or swelling doesn’t subside after a few days, this may also indicate a fracture. In this case, you should seek medical attention and have an x-ray done to ensure the proper treatment plan.

Identifying a Fracture

There are several different types of fractures, but identifying you have any kind of fracture is fairly simple. Here are some indicating factors that you may have fractured your finger or wrist:

  • Swelling, bruising, or bleeding in the affected area.
  • Intense pain.
  • Not being able to move the affected area.
  • Numbness and tingling on the affected area.
  • The bone has pierced the skin and is visible. (Open fractures only.)

If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms, immediate medical attention is required. While traveling to the doctor, try and limit movement of the limb to prevent further injury or pain. If your bone has not pierced the skin, you can apply a cool compress for up to 20 minutes to help temporarily relieve some of the pain or swelling.

Getting active is a great resolution, but try not to get overeager and push yourself too far. If you do end up injuring yourself, we are here to help! If you have an emergency, we are open 24/7 to treat your hand and wrist emergencies. If you sought treatment at an ER for an immediate fracture, come see the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas to make sure everything was set properly and no surgery or follow-up treatment is required.

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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