Sprains, Strains and Broken Bones…Oh My!
One of the most common injuries that we care for at Complete Urgent Care are acute extremity injuries. Ankles, Knees, wrists, elbows and shoulders are prone to frequent injury. Through many years of practice in the Emergency Room, I have seen injuries that cover the range from severe, devastating broken bones to the worst sprains/strains injuries that you can imagine.
Today I will discuss the similarities and differences in diagnosing, treating and rehabbing strains, sprains and broken bones.
First, we should start by defining all the parts in play that may not be familiar:
Tendon: Strong fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone
Ligament: Strong fibrous tissue that attaches bone to bone
Strain: Overstretching or partial tear of muscle or tendon. Strains are often graded based on severity.
Sprain: Overstretching or partial tear of ligament. Strains are often graded based on severity.
Fracture: Broken bone. Any broken bone is called a fracture. Physicians use description words to classify fractures like non-displaced (anatomic alignment maintained), displaced (anatomic alignment no longer intact), comminuted (multiple bone fragments), angulated (angled away from the anatomic position)
Strains are commonly seen with daily activities, both work and leisure. Lifting is probably the most common cause of muscle strains. Lifting weight in a non-optimized position is a frequent source of these injuries. This may result from lifting heavy objects at home or work or lifting weights at the gym. At times, explosive movements, like jumping, sprinting, etc. can also cause muscle strains.
Strains are often classified by grades, this is used to help determine severity of injury and predict recovery:
- Grade I: These are the result of moderate damage to small amount of muscle fibers. Typically these result in pain but minimal to no loss of function, strength or range of motion. With appropriate care and treatment, these will usually improve with a few weeks time.
- Grade II: These injuries are more severe and involve larger areas of damage to muscle tissue. Grade II injuries do result in decreased strength, function and range of motion. These injuries require specialized experts in sports medicine and typically physical therapy to help support, treat, and fully recover. The recovery time is variable depending on location and treatment but averages a few months before significant recovery.
- Grade III: These injuries are the most severe and are a result of complete muscle/tendon rupture. Depending on the location, these injuries may require surgery or other intensive treatment/therapy. These need immediate attention/evaluation buy a sports medicine specialist.
Both our Urgent Care and Sports Medicine specialists are expertly trained in optimizing treatment of all varieties of muscle strains. We also have access to the best medical devices (splints, etc) and modern treatment modalities available in the acute phase of these injuries. We would be happy to assess and treat any of your needs.
When most people think of sprains, they typically think of ankle sprains but sprains can happen to any ligament including ACL, MCL, PCL, elbow ligaments, rotator cuffs, etc. Sprains can range from mild to severe and are also graded in very much the same fashion of strains:
- Grade I: Grade I injuries are defined as inappropriate stretching an microscopic tearing of ligaments. They are the most mild of all sprain injuries and usually result in brief and localized pain and swelling. Will appropriate care, these injuries typically resolve around the 1-2 week range
- Grade II: Grade II injuries result from partial tearing of ligaments. These injuries result in moderate instability, swelling, pain and tenderness. These can result in decreased joint stability and strength. These may require immobilization, treatment and rehab depending on the location and severity. Typically these Grade II injuries will be symptomatic for a few weeks or at times, longer.
- Grade III: Grade III injuries result form complete tears of ligaments. These will result in These often require surgical correction of specific and long-term immobilization/splinting/casting to help repair. Typically these will require physical therapy as well and recovery is expected to last a few months or longer depending on location.
Sprains can cause significant discomfort and disability. With quick and efficient treatment by professionals like the ones at Complete Health Sports and Urgent care can quickly assess and develop a treatment plan that gets you back active as safely and effectively as possible.
A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone. There is often the misconception that the term fracture is used to describe an injury less severe than a break, but to medical professionals, fractured means broken. You can see above that there are a lot of ways to describe different fractures. The least severe would be a non-displaced fracture, meaning that the bones are still lined up perfectly. As the bones move out of normal alignment or into multiple different positions or pieces we use other terms like angulation and comminution to relay the severity of these injuries. All fractures require urgent to emergent medical care and treatment to help optimize recovery. Some of these injuries require surgery but many factures can be treated with immobilization by splints, casts, etc.
Our team here at Complete Health Partners can help determine the best plan of action to treat your fracture in both the acute and long term phase of your recovery. Finding a provider who you trust with you care will be crucial in helping you receive the most modern, effective, and efficient fracture care available today.
At Complete Health, we have a highly skilled team of both urgent care and sports medicine providers to help you through all phases in your recovery after an injury. We can treat you for both the initial injury as well as get you follow up in our Sports Medicine Clinic where we employ cutting edge technology and treatment to help get you back on the field, on the job, or just back to enjoying your life as quickly and safely as possible.