How can I tell if my thumb is broken or just sprained?
My thumb got bent wayyyy back and now it is swollen and hurts. The doctor said the x-ray didn't show anything but it could miss a fracture and gave me a splint. What do I do differently if it is sprained or broken? Will it heal the same way either way?
I am sorry that you had this accident! The good news is that there was no obvious fracture when your doctor performed the x-ray. What your doctor probably meant here is that, typically when you go to the emergency room or an urgent care center for an injury like this, the x-ray is initially interpreted by the doctor who is providing the treatment. If this doctor does not see any obvious fracture, then this generally rules out a serious injury that requires immediate treatment. However, this doctor may occasionally miss a very small fracture of a bone, but this might be picked up a day or two later when the x-ray is reviewed again formally by a radiologist, who is a specialist in reading x-rays. The way most emergency rooms operate is that they will call you back if the radiologist picks up a small fracture. Typically, missing these minor fractures does not result in any change in the immediate treatment plan, although generally if a small fracture is picked up you will be given an appointment to follow up with an orthopedic specialists in a few days or weeks. Please see your primary care doctor to discuss appropriate follow-up. Good luck!
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.