“Is My Ankle Sprained or Broken?” Answers to Readers’ FAQs

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH What happens if you twist your ankle so badly that you don’t know whether it’s sprained or broken? I get that question a lot on my post about clues to a possible fracture. “I twisted my ankle in basketball. Is it broken?” “It’s really swelled up. It hurts a lot. Is it broken or sprained?” My answer? I don’t know. I can’t tell without a physical exam. And even then, my diagnosis would need to be confirmed with an X-ray because lots of times, breaks and sprains have the same symptoms. So, as you might imagine, in a survival situation without an X-ray, diagnosis and treatment will get tricky even for medical professionals. […]

By | May 11th, 2016|Bones|21 Comments

Spring Survival Quiz

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Springtime. It always reminds me of the cycle of life, rebirth, new beginnings. And, of course, it’s a time to get outside, to hike, camp, play … and spring clean. This is the first of a two-part true/false spring quiz to help you get you prepared for all of the above. In the comments, let me know how you do! […]

By | April 4th, 2013|Hot, Weather|7 Comments

The Inside Scoop on RICE for Injuries

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH I love acronyms. They’re such great memory tricks. They saved me on many a test in medical school. And many of them I remember to this day. Needless to say, I use them when I can. RICE is one I use the most. […]

By | February 28th, 2013|Bones, Jargon|4 Comments

Knee Injury: Your Top-4 Questions, Answered

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH In this post, I’m going to address some of the more frequent questions that are being asked in the comment section of my post “8 Tips for How to Treat a Knee Injury and How to Know If It’s Bad.” The questions seem to center around the following: […]

By | February 25th, 2013|Bones, Reader Questions|159 Comments

6 Clues Your Ankle is Broken, Not Sprained

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Sometimes it’s not that easy to tell a sprain from a broken ankle. Just this past year, a seventyish-year-old woman came limping into the clinic where I was working to have her ankle checked. Seemed she had twisted it a couple of weeks before and her husband was going to keep nagging her until she came in. The X-rays revealed a break. A pretty bad one at that. She couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if she was more upset that she was going to need a cast and crutches or she’d have to acknowledge that her husband was right. Many people come to the clinic convinced they have a break or just as sure it’s just a sprain. Often they end up being wrong. It’s not so easy for doctors to tell either. Fortunately we have the benefit of X-rays. But what if getting an X-ray is impossible? What can tip you off that it’s a sprain or a broken ankle? And why does it matter? […]

By | February 4th, 2013|Bones|1,342 Comments

8 Tips for How to Treat a Knee Injury and How to Know If It’s Bad

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH It’s football season and prime time for knee injuries. But truth be told, I see them all year long—in athletes and the rest of us. They happen at home, at work, and during any recreation at any age. Sometimes they happen when you’re just standing still and twist the wrong way. When you hurt your knee, it may be evident you’ve done major damage. Often, though, it’s not so clear. Knee-sprain symptoms can be the same as symptoms from something more serious. Even we doctors sometimes have a tough time telling a sprain from a tear. One reason is it’s hard to try to move a swollen, painful knee. So what can you do when no one medical is around? There are a few things, but first, it helps to know the anatomy. […]

By | September 27th, 2012|Bones|1,379 Comments

Easy Treatment for Shoulder Injuries

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. When I was growing up and heard the sports announcer say some player suffered a shoulder separation, I’d picture the poor athlete with his shoulder actually separated in two. Horrible. How could he ever play again? Now I know it’s usually not quite as bad as it sounds. Okay, it’s never happened to me, but … shoulder (or AC) separations, clavicle fractures, and rotator cuff tears and strains are some of the most common shoulder injuries I see. Fortunately, until you can get to a doctor, the initial treatment for all is similar: […]

By | January 12th, 2012|Bones, Videos|5 Comments

Video: How to Make a Splint

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. If you injure your neck or an extremity and can’t get to medical help, you may need to stabilize it with a splint. Materials Needed to Make a Splint SAM Splint or other firm material Elastic bandages Duct tape You can make a splint out of virtually any firm material that fits the area of the body, but there’s a fairly inexpensive tool you can buy and have on hand. It conforms to the injured area, and you can cut it to size. It’s called a SAM Splint. It comes in many lengths and widths to fit fingers, forearms, ankles, knees, etc. If you’re on a budget, buy a few of the longer ones. (If you cut it, curl up the sharp edge so it won’t cut you back.) The thing about SAM Splints is they’re light, and they take up little space if you fold or roll them. Unlike braces, they can fit all sizes. Unlike cast material, they don’t have to harden. You can wrap them around the neck or ankle, or use them on finger, wrist, arm, elbow, foot, leg, or knee injuries. Someone told me the idea came from playing with a gum wrapper. […]

By | December 6th, 2011|Bones, Getting Started, Videos|10 Comments