Fell In The Ice? Is It A Sprain or Broken?
Ice skating definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you live in the north then you might not have a choice. You can’t always see it, and just because you know it’s there doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll successfully avoid it. You slip and you slide without warning. We can’t be a hundred percent on our game every single second we’re outside in the winter–accidents are inevitable. Cuts, scrapes, broken bones and sprained ankles are all common injuries during this cold, lightless time of year. You can tell what kind of an injury it is when the wound is external, but how can you tell the difference between a sprain and a break?
Sometimes you can’t.
X-rays exist because sometimes even trained professionals need confirmation. Even so, there are a number of signs and symptoms that might help you differentiate between a sprain and a break after you slip and fall in the ice. First, you need to know what each of these injuries mean for your health. Most people suffer from a broken bone at some point in their lives. If it isn’t a more radical injury like a compound fracture, then it might be a hairline fracture. This occurs when the bone in question is only cracked instead of broken all the way through. It might also just refer to a “bruised” bone. These fractures are difficult to diagnose, and usually require imaging equipment.
A sprain refers to any damage to the ligaments that actually connect your bones to the joints in your body. The ligament might be torn, or it might only be stretched. Either way, a sprain hurts. The laymen might think the bone is broken, because sometimes you might hear a sort of grinding sound when you put your ear to the injury and try to move the bones that are attached to that ligament.
Because the pain–and that sound!–is so localized, it can be difficult to tell exactly where the pain is coming from. If the pain is in your bone, it’s a fracture. If the pain is in the soft tissues around the bone, it’s usually a sprain. A broken ankle bone might make it impossible to walk, but then again a torn ligament in the wrist could make it excruciating just to hold onto a coffee mug.
If the pain is severe, then see a doctor immediately. If the pain seems more manageable, then there are a few basic rules to follow. First and foremost, don’t use the injured appendage. Rest as much as possible. Ice the injury, and take some mild painkillers such as ibuprofen to reduce swelling or manage any pain. Elevate and wrap the injured appendage. Pharmacies usually sell compression products for such injuries.
If the pain doesn’t go away in a few days, then there’s a strong likelihood of a break, and you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.