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How Do You Tell if an Auto Injury Is to Bone or Muscle?

Car accidents can often lead to injuries that range in severity from mild to severe, impacting bones, soft tissues, and more. Regardless of the severity of your injury, getting early treatment can save you from dealing with a lot of pain in the future. Here’s how you can tell if a car accident injury is to bones or muscles, as well as what you should do to heal and get back to your normal life. 

Fracture vs. Muscle Injury

Fractures and muscle injuries share many of the same symptoms. The difference between the two conditions couldn’t be simpler, though. A fracture is a break in the bone, while muscle injuries like sprains and strains are soft tissue injuries. 


Fractures, or broken bones, can cause immediate pain and inflammation around the area of injury. Unless the bone is poking through your skin, though, you’ll need to get an X-ray to determine the location and extent of the fracture. In some severe cases, you may also need a CAT scan or MRI to look for damage to ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Some of the signs of fracture after a car accident include:

  • Audible crunching sound as bones rub together
  • Deformity to a limb
  • Inability to put weight on the injured area
  • Swelling and bruising

Muscle Injury

The force of the impact during a car accident can lead to uncomfortable muscle, tendon, and ligament stretching, or even tearing. When these injuries affect muscles or tendons, they are known as strains. If the injury affects ligaments—the tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together—it’s called a sprain. Both strains and sprains can cause similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. Sprains and strains can be mild to severe, with symptoms like:

  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Popping sounds or strange sensations around joints
  • Swelling
  • Trouble moving the injured area

Treating Fractures and Muscle Injuries After a Car Accident

If your doctor has determined you have a broken bone from a car accident, the type of treatment you need depends on the location and severity of the fracture. Mild fractures may only require the bone to be put back into normal alignment with the help of a cast. More severe breaks may require surgery.

For muscle injuries, treatment often includes rest, ice, and the use of anti-inflammatories to heal the injured area. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

See a Doctor Immediately After a Car Accident

Both fractures and muscle injuries can cause severe pain and discomfort. While you should obviously seek medical attention immediately when bones have broken and pierced through the skin, it’s important to visit your healthcare provider even if your symptoms are minor. 

Getting medical assistance immediately can save you from long-term complications that often arise from delaying medical attention. Reach out to the caring team at Impact Medical Group of Port Richey immediately after an accident for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Call us today at (727) 848-3377 to request your free consultation!