Broken Hand vs. Sprained Hand

Hand injuries of any scale are some of the most difficult situations to deal with, be it a sprain, a fracture or anything in-between. While it is important to seek immediate attention from a qualified hand pain physician when you have sustained a hand injury, it is equally important to be able to tell the difference between a broken hand and a sprained hand in order to know what to expect.

Distinguishing between a fracture and a sprain can be difficult, as both injuries share very similar symptoms. They are as followed:

  • Severe pain – increased when making a fist or lifting an object.
  • Swelling – not only in the hand but potentially the fingers and/or wrist.
  • Bruising – typically in the affected area.
  • Stiffness, numbness, or complete inability to move the hand.

The key difference here is the severity of the symptoms, which may be too subtle for the untrained eye but is still a good starting point for self-diagnosis. Furthermore, if you do not have immediate access to a doctor and the symptoms do not lessen within 2 or 3 days, you are likely experiencing symptoms of a fracture.

Whether you have a broken hand or a sprained hand, your doctor will recommend one of the following treatment plans:

  • Ceasing all physical activity that can further aggravate the injury. While an aggravated sprain will typically only increase the pain, an aggravated fracture may lead to permanent damage.
  • Immobilizing the hand with a splint for the injury to heal on its own. This works for the majority of sprains and for minor fractures. You may also be required to work on strength and range of motion in physical therapy.
  • Surgery is typically the only option for serious fractures as well as sprains, as the bones must be set into the proper position and secured with pins or wires to promote healing.

To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of hand injuries, we welcome you to contact us at Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management today! Our Sarasota/Bradenton hand pain physicians are always available to provide an immediate and highly accurate response to any hand injury that may befall you.