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You can feel confident entrusting your loved one’s care to DispatchHealth. Our experienced providers treat almost everything that an emergency room can—including breaks, sprains, and bruises—without requiring you to leave the comfort of your home and travel to a germ-ridden waiting room. What’s more, your loved one can get the care that he or she needs for just a fraction of what it would cost at an ER. Our visits cost about the same as a trip to an urgent care center, and we even offer a reasonable flat rate for uninsured patients.

Breaks, sprains & bruises symptoms & when to seek treatment

It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a broken bone and a sprain, since they produce many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited range of motion

Because of these similarities, medical providers often need to use diagnostic tests, like an X-ray, to confirm whether someone has a fracture or a sprain. However, there are a few ways to tell breaks and sprains apart aside from diagnostic testing. If the pain is located directly over a bone, there’s a good chance that someone has a fracture; if it’s located in the softer tissue around a bone, he or she more likely has a sprain. Also, if the injury occurred in a lower extremity, a fracture will generally make it impossible to walk, while a sprain will just make it difficult to do so.

If you suspect that your elderly loved one has broken a bone, it’s important to seek treatment right away. If you believe that it might be a sprain, you can likely hold off for the time being. Many sprains don’t require outside care—they can often be treated using at-home remedies like pain medication, icing, and compression—but if your loved one is experiencing extreme bruising or swelling, or if you don’t see an improvement after a few days, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact a professional. And if there’s any uncertainty as to whether your elderly loved one has a break or a sprain, it’s a good idea to seek treatment from a medical provider. Even if it turns out to be just a sprain, a professional will be able to recommend a course of treatment that’s specifically tailored to your loved one’s condition.

Notably, if your loved one sustains a bruise but doesn’t appear to have a fracture or a sprain, you should still seek treatment if:

  • It’s accompanied by swelling and significant pain
  • It doesn’t improve within two weeks
  • It doesn’t disappear completely within three to four weeks
  • It’s located on the head and your loved one can’t remember what happened
  • It’s located near an eye and your loved one is having trouble seeing or moving the eye
  • It’s located under a fingernail or toenail and is causing pain
  • There doesn’t appear to be any reason for the bruising

What causes breaks, sprains & bruises in seniors?

Although breaks, sprains, and bruises can result from a number of things, seniors often sustain these injuries during a fall. Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four Americans 65 and older falls each year, with an older adult receiving ER treatment for a fall every 11 seconds, and falls are the leading cause of nonfatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among seniors.

There are various reasons why falls are relatively common among the elderly population. For instance, seniors may fall down because their eyesight has deteriorated, making it harder for them to see where they’re going, or because they’ve lost their sense of balance. Notably, although seniors often require medication to manage their health conditions, certain prescriptions can produce side effects that actually increase the chances of falling, such as dizziness and drowsiness.

Plus, when a senior injures him- or herself, the injury is more likely to be significant. Many elderly individuals have osteoporosis, which makes bones more fragile and prone to breaking, and seniors tend to have more difficulty recovering from an injury than their younger counterparts.

How to prevent & manage breaks, sprains & bruises in seniors

There are various steps that you can take to help your elderly loved one avoid falling, thereby lowering his or her risk of sustaining a broken bone, sprain, or bruise. For example, with a physician’s approval, you can encourage your loved one to follow an exercise regimen that will increase strength and improve balance. If you suspect that your loved one’s medications are producing troublesome side effects, you may want to schedule an appointment with his or her primary care provider to review the prescriptions. Likewise, you might want to arrange an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist to review your loved one’s current lens prescription. And in order to prevent falls around the house, you can clear out clutter, invest in some additional lighting fixtures, and install aging-in-place modifications like grab bars and ramps.

If left untreated

If your elderly loved one has sustained a break, sprain, or bruise requiring professional attention, don’t hesitate to seek treatment, since leaving these conditions untreated can lead to serious complications in the future. For instance, if a fracture doesn’t heal properly, it can result in an infection, limited range of motion, and even a visible deformity.

To request a visit from DispatchHealth’s skilled team of providers, contact us today by phone, through our app, or on our website.

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