You know you’ve injured your ankle. It’s swollen, bruising, and hurts when you put weight on it. Is it broken or an ankle sprain? The symptoms are very similar, making it hard to know the difference, so we break down a broken vs. sprained ankle here for you; because knowing which ankle injury you have will determine the best course of treatment.
The one true way to know requires a trip to the doctors where your doctor will likely order an x-ray of your ankle to visualize the bones. But since you don’t have an x-ray machine sitting in your home and you’re wondering if this is a broken ankle or sprain, here are 2 ways you can judge.
An ankle fracture can involve one or more of the many bones that make up the ankle joint. These include the fibula, tibia, and talus bones.
When you’re evaluating your injured ankle to try and decide if you’ve broken or sprained it there are a few things you can look for to help you decide. The first is what caused the injury. An ankle bone can break with something as simple as a fall or as significant as a car accident. It’s likely that whatever did it was forceful and painful.
Another key thing to evaluate are your symptoms. A few things should clue you into a fractured ankle and they are:
If you think you’ve broken your ankle seek medical attention as soon as you can. Your doctor will evaluate your ankle and decide if you need any diagnostic imaging like an x-ray. Until you can get to your doctor the other key things you should do are:
Here is an in-depth resource to learn more about broken ankle treatments.
The ankle is stabilized by ligaments. When you move your ankle outside its normal range of motion these ligaments can get injured.
You feel pain after you’ve injured your ankle and now are trying to decide if it’s a sprain. If you felt your ankle turn inward or outward that could have been the cause. Another common cause is miss stepping on a curb or step.
After you’ve given the cause of your ankle injury some thought it’s time to evaluate your symptoms. Here are the ones you should look out for a sprain:
Here is a great resource to learn more about sprained ankles.
Many times an ankle sprain can be treated at home. Start off treatment with the RICE acronym (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to minimize swelling. To manage the ankle pain you can take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen. Stay off of your foot as much as you can and let your body rest so that it can heal quickly. You should see improvement within a few days.
Ankle sprains and fractures are injuries that need to be evaluated by a doctor. Mild sprains can heal within a few days with minimal treatment. But it can be very difficult to determine if a severe sprain is really a sprain or a fracture. Your doctor will look over the bones of the ankle and likely order an x-ray to get a definitive diagnosis. If it is a sprain, they may suggest going to physical therapy which can help minimize your recovery time.
Here are a few things that you should never ignore, contact your doctor right away if you are experiencing:
If you’ve been diagnosed with a broken ankle, continue through this guide to help you through the next steps of treatment and towards recovery.
Sources:Broken Ankle Products
Next Pages:Broken vs Sprained Ankle