Bone, Muscle, and Joint Injuries

There are many types of bone, muscle, and joint injuries, such as:
A pulled muscle (strain)
An injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues (sprain)
A broken bone (fracture)

When one end of a bone is pulled or pushed out of its normal position (dislocation)
Overuse injuries. These injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by “overdoing” an activity or repeating the same activity over and over day after day. Examples of overuse injuries include bursitis and tendinitis, stress fractures, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

A bruise (contusion) occurs when small blood vessels under the skin break, usually from a bump or fall. See the topic Bruises in Related Information.

If your symptoms are not related to a specific injury or overuse, see the topic Bone, Muscle, and Joint Problems in Related Information.

It may be hard to tell if you have a strain, sprain, or fracture. Most minor strains and sprains can be treated at home, but severe sprains, fractures, and dislocations require a visit to your doctor. Use home treatment while you wait to see your doctor.

An injury is more concerning when any of the following are present:
Deformity of the injured limb or joint (bone is out of alignment, joint is dislocated, or misshapen)
Signs of damage to nerves or blood vessels such as:
Numbness, tingling, “pins-and-needles” feeling

Weakness below the injury
Pale or bluish skin
The limb feels colder to the touch than the uninjured limb.
Inability to move the limb or joint normally

Severe pain
A large amount of swelling begins within 30 minutes of the injury.
Broken skin over an injured joint or site of a suspected fracture (unless the injury was obviously minor)
The injury does not appear to be caused by an accident, and you are concerned about possible abuse of a child, elder, or adult.

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