For an athlete, sports injuries such as hairline fractures and sprains are inevitable. But how do you differentiate between the two? A qualified orthopedics specialist can diagnose and treat these injuries to avert further damage. At Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine, our orthopedic specialists have the experience to diagnose the injury at the source and determine the best treatment options for each injury. Here is a brief description of the two, alongside the most appropriate treatment options for each.

What is a hairline fracture?

A fracture involves a cracked or broken bone or bone cartilage. A hairline fracture, also known as a stress fracture, is any of your bones receiving a small crack, or even an acute bruise. The damage may be instant but mostly occurs over time, due to repetitive tasks where the injury first appeared. Hairline fractures are commonly found in legs and feet among athletes, but anyone can get them, especially if they have osteoporosis.

Hairline fracture is characterized by pain in the affected area that tends to become extreme with time. Consider visiting an orthopedic specialist if you experience pain that becomes intense when exercising, but reduces when you rest. The affected area may also feel tender and appear swollen. Besides physical examination, your orthopedic specialist may request a bone scan, MRI scan or X-ray to assess the level of damage.

Treatment options for hairline fracture

Before visiting a doctor, you may want to consider home remedies such as the RICE method that involves resting, placing ice on the affected area, compression and elevation. Depending on the extent of the injury, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. At Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine, our experienced orthopedists will diagnose and treat your hairline fracture before the damage escalates.

What is a sprain?

A sprain refers to a tear or stretch in your ligaments, especially around joints that connect your bones. Unlike hairline fractures, which are often found in feet and legs, sprains commonly affect your ankles. Symptoms of sprain are similar to those of hairline fracture and include pain during activities, swelling and bruising. As a result, you may confuse the two, making it necessary to consult a medical specialist to diagnose the problem and offer the most appropriate remedy.

How are sprains treated?

Just like hairline fractures, the RICE method may be an appropriate home remedy. If the symptoms are severe, you may need to seek professional help from a qualified orthopedic specialist, who will diagnose and recommend an appropriate treatment option, including surgery if need be.

Contact us

At Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine, we have the tools and knowledge required to diagnose and treat both hairline fractures and sprains, among other sports and work injuries. Contact us to book an appointment at either our St. Louis, Fenton or Creve Coeur office today.