Is It A Sprained Or Broken Ankle 5 Ways To Tell
2 million people suffer from ankle injuries a year. Among them, 400,000 come from sports injuries. Given that sports are the expected place for injuries, that means most of them are unexpected.
Running, walking, and jumping are risks for sprained or broken ankles. Given that feet house 26 bones and 107 ligaments, it can be hard to know the difference.
Their differences depend on the location of the injury as well as its severity. Learning about both can help you proceed with the right sprained ankle treatments.
Heres what to do for a sprained ankle.
Treatment For A Sprain
Itâs usually less involved when you are healing from a sprain. Most sprains will clear up on their own.
And your doctor may advise you to try the âRICEâ method to ease your inflammation:
You may need physical therapy for a moderate sprain. You should start range of motion exercises once the pain and swelling subside. Surgery is usually for severe cases when other treatments have failed.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Ankle Fractures
Many ankle fractures happen after traumatic events such as motor vehicle accidents, falling or being injured playing sports.
But you can fracture your ankle simply by taking a misstep while walking, stepping off a curb or stumbling over something in your home. You can limit this kind of risk by:
- Taking extra care when walking on uneven surfaces and curbs.
- Eliminating clutter in your home that cause you to trip over and fall.
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Sprained Ankle Vs Broken Ankle
A sprain is a stretch or tear in a ligament. Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones at the joint. Ligaments appear as crisscross bands that attach to bones and help stabilize joints. Mild to moderate sprains typically take 3-8 weeks to fully heal. More severe sprains may take a few months to fully heal and regain full mobility.
A broken or fractured ankle occurs when one or more bones in your ankle break. Ankle breaks are commonly caused by falls, high-impact sports, car accidents or injuries that place excessive force on the ankle. Treatment protocols and recovery times largely depend on the location and severity of the break and may include immobilization with a cast for several weeks and surgery to repair the broken bones.
When To Suspect A Sprain
While its best to head to our offices if youve injured your ankle, your injury is likely a sprain if you do maintain some ability to bear weight on it. The pain will be mild-to-moderate, and you should have some ankle instability. Swelling and bruising develops over the course of several hours or days.
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Signs Of A Broken Ankle: Is Your Ankle Broken Or Sprained
Both a sprained or broken ankle can cause severe pain. In addition, the same sorts of injuries could cause both types of injuries. Shared symptoms include swelling, pain and trouble walking. A doctor may even have to order an x-ray to know for sure however, there are some signs that your ankle is surely broken and not just sprained.
In either case, you will be prudent to consider calling upon one of our foot and ankle surgeons at Southeast Orthopedic Specialists. Our experienced orthopedic doctors want to relieve your pain and help you return to your feet.
Immediate Action Required: Go To A& e If:
You’ve had an injury and:
- your ankle is at an odd angle
- a bone is sticking out of your ankle
- you have a bad cut or wound on your ankle
- you’re in severe pain
- your toes look blue or white, or feel numb
If you cannot get to A& E by yourself, call 999 for an ambulance.
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it’s hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it’s very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
- is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities
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Urgent Advice: Get Help From Nhs 111 Or Go To An Urgent Treatment Centre If:
You’re recovering from a broken ankle and:
- the pain in your ankle gets worse
- your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
- your leg, foot or toes start to feel numb or like they’re burning
- your leg, foot or toes look swollen, or turn blue or white
- the plaster cast or boot is rubbing, or feels too tight or too loose
- there’s a bad smell or discharge from under your cast
How Much Force Does It Take To Break An Ankle
As a rough estimate, it would take 218 pounds of pressure to produce a tibial fracture in a healthy adult using a hammer. You could decrease the force requirement by choosing a tool with less surface area, such as a hatchetthen again, youd be increasing the risk of soft tissue damage and significant blood loss.
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The Difference Between A Sprained Ankle And A Broken Ankle
Our busy lives take a toll on our bodies, and in particular our joints. The ankle joint takes a significant amount of the stress of everyday movement as it is vital to supporting and distributing bodyweight.
The ankle joint is a complex and vulnerable structure. The ankle is made up of the joining of the leg and foot bones with support and movement provided by ligaments and muscles. An ankle roll, bad landing, or fall can easily lead to injury to one of the many vital parts of the ankle. Ankle injuries are unfortunately common. Approximately 2 million people in the US are treated for ankle injuries each year. Two of the most common types of ankle injuries include ankle sprains and breaks. Often, these injuries can appear the same.
If youve experienced an ankle injury, its imperative to seek professional diagnosis as soon as possible. A broken ankle can often be mistaken for a sprain, even with an X-ray, due to the complex structure of tissue, muscle, and ligaments concealing the bone. If not properly treated, an ankle break can lead to further pain, damage to the ankle joint, and impede mobility.
Read on for more info on the differences between a sprained ankle and a broken ankle:
Complications After Ankle Fracture
Many patients will experience stiffness and swelling in the injured ankle for many months, even after the fracture has healed.
Rehabilitation will help improve the motion in your ankle and prevent stiffness. The swelling can be relieved by elevating your leg.
Other general complications include malunion, where the bones do not heal properly, or nonunion, where the bones do not heal at all.
Some complications are specific to surgery. These include:
- Damage to blood vessels, tendons, and nerves
- Problems with the plates or screws used to repair your ankle
People who smoke, have diabetes, or are elderly are at a higher risk for complications after surgery.
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Is It A Sprained Or Broken Ankle
Many people think sprains are minor and breaks are major. While its true you dont need a plaster cast for a sprain, sprains can be more complex and longer-lasting than a full-on break.
In the thick of a pain-searing moment, its near impossible to know the differenceall you knows that it hurts. Heres how to find out.
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How Do You Know If Ankle Injury Is Serious
People with a more severe ankle sprain characterized by extreme bruising or swelling and an inability to bear weight on the foot without significant pain, or when there doesnt seem to be any improvement over the first several days after the injury should seek medical attention, Drs. SooHoo and Williams say.
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Broken Ankle Recovery Time
The AAOS says that broken ankles generally heal within 6 to 12 weeks. Injuries that dont need surgery may heal in 6 weeks. During this time, your doctor may take regular X-rays to check on the bone.
Injuries that need surgery can take 12 weeks or longer to heal. Your total recovery time depends on your injury, age, and overall health.
What Happens If A Broken Ankle Goes Untreated
If your ankle has been fractured and you do not get medical attention, it can lead to long-term consequences. The main concerns are that it could cause a nonunion or a delayed union.
A nonunion occurs when the broken bone fails to heal.
By comparison, a delayed union fracture does eventually heal, but it takes much longer than is typical.
Failure to get timely treatment could cause foot deformities that can interfere with walking, running or even completing daily tasks. Youre also at a higher risk of developing an infection or arthritis if you delay with your ankle fracture recovery.
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Symptoms Of A Sprained Ankle
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments holding the bones of the ankle joint together are injured or torn. Sprains often occur when the ankle is twisted or overextended past its natural range of motion, such as when you roll your ankle, stretching the ligaments to the point of tearing.
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
If you think you may have sustained an ankle sprain, its important to seek diagnosis as soon as possible. Your orthopaedic specialist will determine the severity of the sprain and the best course of treatment.
Treatments for an ankle sprain include:
What Does It Mean If You Have A Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments of your ankle. Ligaments are dense pieces of connective tissue that hold your ankle bones together and help stabilize your joint.
Sprains usually occur when you suddenly twist your foot and overstretch your ligaments. Most often, the ligaments in the outer part of the foot get sprained. Its less common to sprain your inner ligaments.
Some potential causes of a sprained ankle include:
- walking or running on an uneven surface
- landing on the side of your foot when running, jumping, or pivoting
- twisting your ankle while falling
- rolling your ankle while walking or running
- having somebody land on your foot while playing sports
Most sprained ankles are minor injuries, but they can range in severity depending on the amount of damage to your ligaments. The severity of an ankle sprain can vary as follows:
- Grade 1 sprain. One or more ligament is overstretched but not torn. Youll likely be able to move your foot normally after a few days, and it will likely heal within
Many people mix up the terms sprain and strain. However, the two injuries affect different structures in your body.
- A sprain is an injury to a ligament connecting two bones together.
- A strain is an injury to a muscle or a tendon that connects your muscle to the bone. A strain is also known as a pulled muscle or torn muscle.
A broken ankle also called an ankle fracture is when one or more of the bones around your ankle joint breaks.
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What Is A Fracture
A fracture is the same thing as a “break.” Much like sprains, breaks can vary from hairline fractures that only involve one bone to multiple, compound fractures that keep you off your foot for months. Like sprains, fractures usually happen because of extreme force on the bone, either from a fall, auto accident, or other acute-force trauma.
How To Know If Your Ankle Is Sprained Or Broken
Your ankle is the meeting place for three bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. The joint is essential to walking, standing, running, and just about any other action you do with your legs and feet.
The ankle allows the foot to move up and down and side-to-side. Because its so moveable, its also vulnerable to injury.
An estimated 187 ankle fractures occur per every 100,000 people each year. Even more common are ankle sprains, with over 2 million people experiencing this injury yearly.
Ankle sprains and fractures share similar symptoms, so sometimes, its hard to know which injury you have.
If you experienced an ankle injury, its wise to get immediate care to ensure you dont end up with long-standing ankle weakness or complications. At Go Feet in Hammonton, Mays Landing, and Linwood, New Jersey, the experienced podiatric team can help if youve injured your ankle.
Heres what to consider when evaluating your injury.
Signs You Broke Your Ankle
A broken bone might sound like something that youd be able to notice right away. However, an ankle fracture can sometimes feel the same as an ankle sprain, making it difficult to tell you have a fracture.
Common symptoms of an ankle fracture include:
In some cases, a broken ankle can feel like a #sprainedankle. Learn common symptoms of ankle breaks and fractures and when to see a doctor via @MedStarHealth
If you suspect youve broken your ankle, you should stay off it, use crutches if you can, and visit an urgent care center or emergency room. You will likely need an X-ray to confirm your injury. First-line treatment typically includes icing your ankle, as it helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. You also want to keep weight off your ankle until you visit a doctor to avoid further injury.
How Can I Tell If Its A Sprain Or Fracture
Both sprains and fractures can cause pain, swelling, and bruising. In addition, it may be difficult to put weight on your injured foot with both ankle sprains and ankle fractures.
The best way to determine if your ankle is sprained or fractured is to have it evaluated by an ankle expert at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers. Your provider identifies the nature of the injury using physical evaluation and digital X-ray and/or CT scan if required.
Here are some symptoms to consider when trying to figure out if your ankle injury is a sprain or fracture:
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How Can I Tell If My Fracture Is Healing
When you touch the fractured area, the pain will lessen as the fracture gets more solid. So, one way to tell if the broken bone is healed is for the doctor to examine you â if the bone doesn’t hurt when he touches it, and it’s been about six weeks since you broke it, the bone is most likely healed.
Treatments For A Sprained Ankle
Sprains include bruising, swelling, tenderness, pain with walking, and sometimes the inability to walk at all. Immediately after the injury, use the RICE method rest, ice, compression and elevation along with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling. Try to keep your ankle above your chest as much as possible for at least 48 hours, and use ice in 15-20 minute intervals several times a day.
Sprains may seem minor, but if left undiagnosed and untreated they may end up leading to more serious complications and long-term issues such as arthritis. It’s always a good idea to have your injury checked out by a doctor, especially if your ankle is still very swollen after 24 hours, misshapen, or if it hurts when you press on the bony part of your ankle.
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When Should I Seek Medical Attention For My Ankle
If your ankle is deformed, youre experiencing extreme pain, or if youre unable to walk at all, you shouldnt wait to seek medical care. If you believe you have an ankle sprain but your injury isnt improving after a few days of rest and ice, its important to schedule an appointment with your provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center.
Ankle fractures that arent treated correctly can cause serious and debilitating complications. And ankle sprains that dont heal properly can lead to recurrent ankle sprains and instability. Its important to have your ankle evaluated by trained ankle specialists to ensure you get back on your feet and back to your daily routine as quickly as possible!
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Contact Us If You Have Sustained Any Type Of Ankle Injury
If you think you have sprained, twisted, or broken your ankle, it is crucial to ensure that it is properly looked at by a professional foot doctor. We have two locations in Midtown and Downtown NYC that are available to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
To learn more about how we have been effectively treating ankle fractures and sprains for decades at our NYC foot clinic, call us at 917-398-3668 or fill in our online contact form below.