What Is An Ankle Fracture
An ankle fracture refers to a break in a bone. The fracture can be a non-displaced crack in the bone, meaning the bone is still aligned, but can also be displaced resulting in a disruption in the normal alignment of the bone. Most often, a broken ankle is caused by a fall, car accidents, high-impact sports, or injuries where excessive force is involved.
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.
Can I Go Back To Sports
If you have an ankle sprain, you’ll probably need to take some time off from sports and other strenuous physical activities. Make sure your sprained ankle is completely healed first.
You can go back when:
- The swelling goes down.
- The sport does not cause pain.
- The doctor says it’s OK.
- You can bear weight without a limp.
- You have your full range of motion.
- Your strength returns to normal.
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Ankle Sprains Are Classified Into Three Grades:
Grade I is a minor stretching of one or more ligaments, accompanied by minimal swelling and pain. Individuals with a grade I sprain will walk with a normal gait and may experience mild stiffness at the ankle joint.
Treatment will be RICE Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and patients will be able to resume full activity in 2 -4 weeks.
Grade II tears involve partial tearing of the ligament and there will be more swelling, pain, and bruising.
Patients with a grade II sprain will also require RICE along with a course of physical therapy. A walking boot or rigid ankle support is used for ambulation during the initial healing phase.
Grade III ankle sprains are much more severe because the ligament is fully torn. You may hear a popping sound when the injury occurs and there will be massive swelling and bruising.
It will be difficult or impossible to walk and the joint is very unstable. A complete tear of the ligament may require surgical repair known as a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction.
Its important to differentiate between an ankle sprain and a broken bone. Oftentimes, the inability to put weight on your foot may indicate a more severe problem such as a fracture and your doctor may recommend an x-ray or MRI.
Reduced Range Of Motion
You can sustain an ankle sprain several ways, but they typically result from turning your foot too far inward. This unnatural movement forces the ligaments on the outside of your ankle to overstretch or tear.
When you severely sprain your ankle, you can damage the ligaments so badly, you cant even bend, flex, or turn your foot. The severity of these injuries can also make it difficult or impossible to perform any weight-bearing activity, like walking or standing.
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Do Ankle Sprains Heal On Their Own
Most sprains heal on their own, but rebuilding strength in your ankle can help prevent future injuries. If you don’t allow your ankle ligaments time to heal, you may have long-lasting instability or repeat ankle sprains. If your symptoms continue for more than four to six weeks after injury and you still feel weakness when walking on your foot, you may have a chronic ankle sprain.
How Long Does It Take For A Bad Ankle Sprain To Heal
Mild, low-grade ankle sprains often recover in one to three weeks with rest and non-surgical treatment . Moderate injuries may take three to four weeks to heal. More severe ankle ligament injuries may take three to six months to recover due to reduced blood supply to the ligaments. Even very severe injuries can usually be healed within a year if proper rehabilitation is done.
Ankle sprains are common injuries that most people experience at some point in their lives. An ankle sprain can be either a partial or complete tear of the ligaments attached to the ankle bone. Partial tears involve only one of the ligaments, while complete tears involve both. Most patients will have pain around the area of the injury and may have difficulty standing or walking on the affected side. In addition, they may have problems with balance, coordination, and elevation of the injured leg when standing.
Ankle sprains are generally classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild injuries require no more than 30 minutes of activity restriction and follow-up visits with your doctor. Moderate injuries limit activity for up to two weeks and require medical attention. Severe injuries may cause disability for several months and require surgery to repair the damaged ligaments.
After an ankle sprain, it is important to rest the joint and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and pain.
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How Long Should I Stay Off My Sprained Ankle
This type of sprain should not induce instability or muscular weakening, although it may produce modest edema. The healing duration for a grade 1 sprained ankle can range from two weeks to a month, but with adequate care, it is usually closer to two weeks. For those who have a more severe injury or are at greater risk of complications, their doctor may advise resting the ankle for several months.
How Can I Tell The Difference
To help figure out what the injury might be, ask yourself a few questions:
- Was there a noise when it happened? A sprain may occur silently, or in severe cases there may be a popping sound. With a fracture, you might hear a crack.
- Is your ankle misshapen? While swelling is a symptom of both injuries, if your ankle looks clearly âoff,â itâs most likely because a bone is broken.
- Does your ankle feel numb? With a sprain, you feel pain. But if you have numbness or tingling, your ankle is most likely broken.
- Where is the pain? If your ankle hurts or is tender to the touch directly over your ankle bone, you probably have a fracture. If the pain is in the soft part of your ankle, itâs more likely a sprain.
If youâre still not sure, see your doctor. They can examine your ankle and give you a number of tests to figure out which injury you have.
Signs Of A Broken Ankle
Both ankle fractures or sprains usually occur because of too much pressure gets put on the joint. People typically suffer from these types of accidents during sports or auto accidents. In some cases, ankles can get stressed because a person stumbles or simply overuses the joint. People who suffer from conditions that lower bone density or who take certain medications may be more vulnerable to fractured ankles.
If you notice any sign of a deformation, a bone that has pierced skin or an inability to put any weight on your ankle at all, there is a high chance that you did fracture an ankle bone. Most likely, the fractured bone is the one called the fibula. This is the smaller bone on the outside of the bottom of each leg.
Sometimes, mild fractions dont produce symptoms that feel much more severe than sprains. People have been known to walk on small fractures without realizing that they broke a bone. If you only suffer from mild symptoms, how can you tell if you have a broken ankle? If your symptoms dont get better or get worse after ice, compression, rest and a pain reliever, you should still consider the possibility that you have broken an ankle bone. Most foot and ankle orthopedists will advise you that its better to get a professional diagnosis than to try to guess.
What To Do If You Sprain Your Ankle
It is bound to happen at some point. You fall down a step or two. Or you step on uneven ground and your ankle rolls under you. Or you’re like many and are just a little clumsy!
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries to occur in the lower body. While some people will require supervised medical management, many can improve through conservative treatment and following activity guidelines as soon as they are injured.
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Most Common Ankle Breaks
Most ankle breaks occur on the bottom of the tibia and fibula bones. Physicians will determine whether the break is stable or unstable .
The most common ankle breaks are:
No matter what type of ankle sprain or break you have, you can be sure the orthopedic specialists at MOSH and our Joint Replacement Institute are ready to help you heal and get you back to your active lifestyle.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- What kind of ankle fracture do I have?
- Do I have to have surgery?
- Will I need to wear a cast or a brace?
- Will I need to have physical therapy?
- How soon can I put weight on my injured ankle?
- When can I play sports?
- How long before my ankle is completely healed?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its important to remember you can re-injure your broken ankle if you move too quickly to resume activities. You might get frustrated or anxious waiting for your ankle to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. They will have suggestions and recommendations about programs and services that might help you.
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How To Tell The Difference Between An Ankle Sprain And A Fracture
Did you know ankle injuries are one of the most common bone and joint injuries for athletes, weekend warriors, and those of us just walking through different daily activities? Many people assume its easy to tell the difference between a fractured bone and a joint sprain, but sprains and fractures share many symptoms making it hard to know whats causing your pain.
At Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, our experienced team of providers help patients in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, with effective diagnoses and care for ankle sprains and ankle fractures. Read on to learn how to tell the difference between ankle sprains and fractures and what you can do about both!
Can I Prevent A Sprained Ankle
It’s impossible to prevent all ankle sprains. But these tips can make another one less likely:
- Stretch regularly to keep your ankles flexible.
- Do ankle range of motion and strengthening exercises to keep your muscles strong.
- Always warm up before playing sports, exercising, or doing any other kind of physical activity.
- Watch your step when you’re walking or running on uneven or cracked surfaces.
- Don’t overdo things. Being tired can make an injury more likely.
- Use tape, lace-up ankle braces, or high-top shoes to support the ankle.
- Wear shoes that fit well. Tie any laces and close any Velcro or other straps to make the shoes as supportive as possible.
- Don’t wear shoes with high heels.
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Symptoms Of A Broken Ankle
Another key thing to evaluate are your symptoms. A few things should clue you into a fractured ankle and they are:
- Severe pain when you press on your foot
- Inability to walk on your foot right after the injury or later in the day
- Bruising or swelling that happens almost immediately
- You hear a popping sound during the injury
- Your ankle is malformed
- Numbness within the foot or ankle
When To See A Doctor For An Ankle Injury
Sometimes, youre just not sure how serious an ankle injury is. If youre not sure its serious enough to see a doctor, watch it for two to four days and use the RICE method:
- Rest. Try to stay off your ankle as much as possible.
- Ice. Use an ice pack several times a day, 20 minutes on and at least 20 minutes off.
- Compression. Use an elastic bandage or walking brace/splint to stabilize it.
- Elevate. Rest your foot at, or above, the level of your heart as much as possible.
Its important to not push through the pain. Putting too much stress on an already injured ankle can lead to bigger problems, like arthritis or extensive ligament damage that can cause ongoing ankle weakness.
Its time to see a doctor if, after two to four days of the RICE protocol, you still have:
- Bruising or blisters
- Difficulty putting weight on your foot
- Significant pain
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If You Need To Ask You Already Need Help
The difference between a fracture and a bad sprain is not that one needs medical attention and the other only some rest at home.
If you have sprained your ankle so badly that you think it might be broken, you have absolutely done enough damage to your ankle that you should see us right away.
In fact, even less severe ankle sprains should warrant at least a call to us to let us know what happened. Even a relatively low-intensity sprain can result in ankle instability if it isnt allowed to heal properly. This can increase your chances of further injuries, which can further destabilize the ankle, and it will only keep going downhill from there.
Never hesitate to contact us about any ankle injuries or problems you might have. Even if it turns out to be something easily treatable with rest at home, we will have a record we can look back on should we need to in the future. Remember that we can easily see you via telemedicine as well!
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What Are The Types Of Ankle Sprains
There are three types of ankle sprains based on how much ligament damage occurred:
- Grade 1 . The ligament fibers stretched slightly or there is a very small tear. Your ankle will have minor swelling and tenderness to the touch.
- Grade 2 . The ligament is torn, but it isnt a complete tear. Your ankle has swelling over the injury and it hurts to move.
- Grade 3 . The ligament is torn completely. Your ankle has significant swelling, the injury is painful and walking is difficult.
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What Should You Know About An Ankle Sprain Or A Broken Ankle
A fractured ankle is more serious than a sprained ankle. Recovery from a clean break that does not require surgery might take 6 to 8 weeks. If you require surgery, your recuperation time will be extended. A simple ankle sprain may take up to two weeks to recover. Any deviation from normal healing processes can lead to pain, stiffness, and instability of the joint. This can increase the risk of further injury.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in sports and activities outside of sports. They account for approximately 20 percent of all injuries seen in the emergency room. Ankles are a complex structure made up of several bones that connect with muscles and tendons. A sprain occurs when one of these structures gets stretched beyond its normal range of motion. The result is pain and swelling in the area affected by the strain. Spasms may also develop as part of the recovery process.
There are two types of ankle sprains: lateral and medial. Lateral ankle sprains are the most common and involve tearing of the ligaments on the side of the foot and ankle. Medial ankle sprains are less common but just as serious. These strains occur when the fibrous tissue on the inside of the ankle is torn. Pain and weakness in the leg due to damage to the blood vessels that supply the leg muscle can result if the fracture is not treated promptly.