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Fractures, Sprains and 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 hospital’s emergency department or an urgent care facility. 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 trauma related pains evaluated by an emergency medicine physician for better treatment outcomes. UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers are staffed by board-certified emergency physicians who are all faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville and part of UF Health Jacksonville’s hospital system.

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, elbows and wrists, 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 a lack of mobility in the affected area.

Are Bruises Serious Enough to Go to the Emergency & Urgent Care Center?

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 a higher 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 emergency facility for diagnosis and treatment.

Have you sustained a possible fracture or sprain, or do you have a severe bruise? Come to a UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center for help, open 24/7.