When you get an injury that's causing severe or lasting pain, it can be difficult to tell whether you have a broken bone, a sprain, or another type of injury. Whenever you suspect a broken bone, there are some steps that you can take to prevent further injury and heal quickly.
Protect the Bone
Before you get your injury examined by a doctor, it's important to protect the bone from being bumped and moved further out of place. You can make a simple splint for your arm by using an over-the-counter splint to wrap the bone in place. These splinting kits should have simple instructions to follow, but make sure that the splint covers the joints on either side of your broken bone to keep the area immobilized.
Get a Physical Examination
When you arrive at the doctor, they will need to do a physical examination to see whether your bone is broken or not. For instance, most broken bones will not be stable when put under a simple weight test. A broken bone will also often produce pain when moved in certain ways, such as when it's compacted.
Get a CT Scan
The only way to be certain that you don't have a fracture is to get a CT scan or other computerized image of your injury. While a doctor can often pick up a larger fracture simply by examining the injury, your doctor may miss hairline fractures without the help of a CT scan. Hairline fractures may not seem as serious as a larger fracture, but they can become more serious if left untreated.
The CT scan is a step up from a traditional x-ray; it takes a very thorough picture of the bones, muscles and fat tissues so that your physician can see the contrast of your musculoskeletal system very clearly. When a doctor is not able to diagnose a broken bone through visual or physical clues, it's a good idea to get a CT scan to be sure there's no broken bone.
Follow Up Care
Whether or not you have a broken bone, your injury will likely need some follow up care. Even for a simple sprain, physical therapy can be a good idea to help you maintain your mobility and flexibility in the injury. You may also want to get a cast or brace to immobilize the area. By getting a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan, you can set yourself on the path to recovery.