“Self-Diagnosing” Strains, Sprains & Broken Bones During Social Distancing

Social distancing has given many of us a lot more free time on our hands to fill. Some of us are getting around to that gardening or landscaping we’ve always wanted to do, while others are finally tackling home repair projects. Starting new exercise routines, taking up running or hiking, or simply spending more time shooting hoops in the driveway, are also on the agenda for many.

But while all of these are great past times, we’re also using muscles that haven’t seen this much activity in years! And that can increase the risk of strains, sprains, and even broken bones. But here’s the “Catch 22”: because of social distancing more and more people are attempting to “self-diagnose” so that they don’t have to venture out the ER, urgent care clinic or doctor’s office.

In this article experienced Shelby Township hand doctor, Dr. Uzma Rehman explains the differences between strains, sprains, and breaks to help you decide when and how to treat yourself and home and when to get to a doctor. But remember, there is no substitute for being examined by a qualified physician to alleviate pain, get the best diagnosis and treatment, and prevent long term damage to your injured limb.

Amount of Pain from Strains, Sprains & Broken Bones

You can’t tell if an injury is a “strain”, a “sprain” or possibly even a “break” just by the degree of pain. The amount of pain can be virtually equal in all of these situations. And, in some cases a broken bone can even be less painful than a sprain.  So, in many case the only way to find out what type of injury you have is to see a doctor.

How to Tell if It is a Strain, Sprain or Broken Bone

How to Know if it is a Sprain

A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament – which is the tissue connecting 2 bones. Sprains can be caused by a fall, twist, or blow to the body,

In a mild sprain, while the ligament is stretched, the joint remains stable and is not loose. A moderate sprain causes joint instability because the ligament is partially torn. And in a severe sprain, the ligament tears completely and/or becomes separated from the bone.

Symptoms of Sprains:

  • feeling a tear or pop in the joint
  • pain
  • swelling
  • bruising

How to Know if it is a Strain

A strain is a twist, pull and/or tear of a muscle and/or tendon – which is the cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones.

Strains can be “acute” or sudden caused by an abrupt stretching or pulling on a muscle or tendon. Chronic strains, however, can occur as the result of overuse of muscles and tendons, usually through repetitive movement over time.

Symptoms of Strains:

  • pain
  • muscle spasm
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of muscle function
  • swelling
  • inflammation
  • cramping

How to Know if it is a Broken Bone

Broken bones, also called “fractures” are chips, cracks or complete breaks in a bone.

Unlike sprains and strains, which can be treated at home if they are mild, a broken bone always requires medical treatment.

Symptoms of Broken Bones:

  • hearing a cracking sound
  • Numbness
  • Poor circulation in the injured limb
  • pain (from dull to severe)
  • swelling and tenderness (from mild to severe),
  • bruising (not all cases)
  • limb looks misshapen or “out of alignment” (almost always a break)
  • moving the area increases pain
  • decreased range of motion
  • difficulty gripping or grasping objects

Treating Strains, Sprains & Broken Bones

Mild strains and sprains can sometimes be treated from home using the “RICE” method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Starting RICE right away after an injury can help minimize damage caused by sprains and strains.

A severe sprain or strain may need surgery or immobilization by a doctor, followed-up with physical therapy. And even mild sprains and strains may require rehab, PT, special exercises or a modification of your activities, to ensure recovery and prevent future problems.

And, broken bones must always be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Seeing a specialized orthopedic doctor is the best way to ensure a full recovery and prevent long term damage, deformity or immobility.

Strains, Sprains & Broken Bones – Shelby Township Hand Doctor

If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm – and you think you may have experienced a strain, sprain or broken bone – contact board certified Shelby Township hand doctor Dr. Uzma Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation.

Our office is open and we are adhereing to the strictest COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols. We will schedule a safe and socially-distanced examination in our Shelby Twp. office.

It is important to remember that delays in the diagnosis and treatment of a sprained, strained or broken arm, finger, wrist, toe or foot can lead to poor healing, deformity and a lifetime of pain and/or limited mobility. So it is important to contact Dr. Rehman right away.

Of course, after hours or for any emergency medical condition, including excessive bleeding or swelling, call 911 or your local Urgent Care immediately.

Shelby Township Hand Doctor: 248.335.2638