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Fractures, Sprains and Injuries – ER or Urgent Care?

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Fractures, Sprains and Injuries – ER or Urgent Care?

Sustaining an injury isn’t a pleasant experience and the amount of damage it causes wildly varies. Fractures or sprains are just a few injuries the body can sustain from participating in physical activities where accidents are commonplace. From playing outside to exercising to working a physically laborious job, all of these are particularly prevalent reasons why someone might sustain bodily damage. 

But what do you do when you think you’ve broken something? Is your bone broken, or are you dealing with a sprain? Determining your injury is incredibly important because the kind of care you need will help the healing process. Some individuals might think it’s okay to let their pain subside, believing their bone injury isn’t as serious as it might be when, in fact, they need medical attention—and if you don’t get the proper care you need, you might end up with permanent ligament or bone damage. 

So, how do you know you’re dealing with bone breaks or sprains? And how do you determine the kind of care you need? More importantly, does your injury require an urgent care or emergency room visit? 

Here are the differences between fractures and sprains and how to determine the proper care you need: 


Fractures happen when the bones in the body sustain a physical force greater than the bone itself can handle. Also known as broken bones, there are  several different types of fractures based on the significance of the impact and whether the bone has sustained previous trauma. 

Common bone fractures include: 

  • Partial or incomplete fracture: when the bone breaks, it only cracks, or the break is incomplete; in some cases, the bone could bend or bow, typically seen in children 

  • Closed or simple fracture: when the bone sustains a break, it does not penetrate through the skin 

  • Open or compound fracture:  because of the angle or impact of force, the bone breaks through the skin and is visible 

  • Complete fracture:  the bone completely breaks into two or more pieces 

  • Stress fracture:  also known as hairline fractures, the bone looks like it has a crack in it 

  • Compression fracture:  taking on a broader or flatter appearance, these fractures happen when the bone is crushed, or there is bone loss 

In some cases, bones are likely to break if individuals are dealing with osteoporosis or arthritis. This is due to the loss of bone density, thereby becoming weaker and more susceptible to breaking. 


Sprains are  caused by trauma that tears or stretches supporting ligaments around the joint. The most common places sprains occur are in the ankle, mainly because we use our feet so much—from walking to and from places to running as an exercise. Ankle sprains  are also among the most common types of sprains found in athletes, but these injuries can occur in the wrist or the knee. 

Unlike fractures, there aren’t as many types of sprains, but they vary in  degree of severity. These include: 

  • Mild or Grade I: the ligaments have only been stretched a little, and there is no tearing 

  • Moderate or Grade II: the ligament has been stretched, and there’s a little bit of tearing 

  • Severe or Grade III: not only has the ligament been stretched, but there is a complete tear 


While broken bones or sprains are injuries you can acquire, of course, they’re not the only kind you might find yourself experiencing. Injuries usually happen by accident, and you never know what type you’re going to get. If you find yourself with a cut, laceration or any other kind of wound or injury, visit an urgent care center or an emergency room if you’re dealing with pain, excessive bleeding, are feeling week or losing consciousness. 

Safety is critical, but accidents do happen, and immediate care centers are here to help. 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

A visual examination typically diagnoses broken bones. Doctors may feel the injured area for signs of pain, soreness, swelling and inflammation. However, not all bone breaks are accompanied by physical symptoms. This is where x-rays play an integral role in determining whether there’s a break in the bone. 

X-rays are one of the most common, if not the standard, in diagnosing fractures. By taking a snapshot of your bones, doctors can see any signs of damage, the location and the type of fracture you might have. In some cases, doctors might issue an MRI or CAT scan to exam bones that are not easily visible due to surrounding organs and tissues. 

After doctors have imaging available, they can diagnose and determine the best treatment option for the broken bone. Treatment ranges from using  splints, casts or braces, which render the bone immobile until they’re mended and healed. In other instances, surgery may be the best option to reposition or connect the bones back together with pins or screws. 

When you’ve broken a bone, it can take weeks or months to heal, depending on the location of the injury, how old you are, what kind of fracture you have and whether you’ve had surgery or are in a cast. For some individuals, more work will need to be done to get back to a place where mobility is possible, and physical therapy, alongside rest and time, will help you make a full recovery. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a sprain, chances are you don’t need surgery, but you will have to reduce your physical activity to let the injury heal. Most of the time, sprains can be wrapped to help compress movement and ease the injury from becoming severe. However, some sprain injuries may require surgery to repair damaged or torn muscles, tendons or ligaments. For the most part, resting, using ice to reduce swelling and elevating the injury will help remove pressure and gravity from the affected area, which  aids the healing process

ER or Urgent Care? 

If you’ve sustained an injury and think you might have a fracture or a sprain, considering visiting an urgent care walk-in clinic for treatment. If you feel your condition is a true emergency, call 911 or visit an emergency room for care. 

You’d be surprised to find that many urgent care centers can diagnose or treat fractures or sprains, depending on their severity. They have the right equipment to take x-rays, diagnose the type of fracture or sprain, and administer the proper care you need. They can also help you determine whether you need to visit an emergency room if your injury is severe enough to warrant specific treatment options such as surgery. Whenever surgery is needed, an emergency room visit is the right way to go. 

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care's emergency room is open 24/7, and urgent care is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Appointments are unnecessary - walk in, and our healthcare professionals are ready to help at both of our locations.

Navarre - 8888 Navarre Pkwy., Navarre, FL 32566. Call the center at 850-750-5698.

Nine Mile - 9400 University Parkway Suite 101A Pensacola, FL 32514. Call the center at 448-227-4600.

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care is comprised of board-certified ER-trained physicians and professionally trained ER nurses who deliver quality medical care. Our urgent care and emergency room can effectively treat various medical conditions. From fever to fractures, allergies to abdominal pain, and colds to concussions, we have you covered with on-site labs, CT, X-rays, and ultrasound.