The Difference Between A Sprain And A Fracture
You know your ankle hurts, but you cant determine just from the pain whether youve injured the bones or soft tissue at the joint. A fracture and sprain both result from similar trauma incurred during a fall or awkward twist.
A sprain involves a tear or other damage to ligaments, connective tissue that attaches bone to bone. A fracture is a break in one of the three main bones at your ankle joint. These include the talus, fibula, and tibia.
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
It’s 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.
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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Broken Ankle Vs Sprained Ankle: When To Call Your Doctor
Ankle sprains and breaks are common among athletes and weekend warriors however, ankle injuries can affect people of all ages and activity levels. If it happens to you, learn how to spot the differences between a broken ankle vs. a sprained ankle and know when you should call your doctor.
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments that join the bones of the ankle. Ankle sprains are usually caused by tripping or falling, landing awkwardly after a jump, a sudden impact, or twisting or rolling the ankle. Sprains can be mild to severe.
There are three bones in the ankle jointthe tibia, fibula and talusan injury can cause one or more of these bones break, or fracture. Ankle fractures can be milder, like a small crack, or severe, with bones shattering and piercing through the skin. A person with a broken ankle also often has damage to the ligaments as well.
Is it a broken ankle or sprained ankle?
Its difficult to tell the difference between an ankle sprain and an ankle fracture. Its especially difficult to tell the difference between a severe ankle sprain and a broken ankle. The symptoms for a sprained ankle and a broken ankle are very similar and include:
- Inability to bear weight on the injured ankle
Its most likely a sprained ankle if
If you can put weight on your ankle after the injury and youre experiencing mild to moderate pain, it is most likely a sprain. Follow RICE Guidelines, which include:
Its most likely a broken ankle if
What To Do For A Broken Ankle
If you think youve 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:
- Stay off your injured ankle
- Ice your foot and ankle
Here is an in-depth resource to learn more about broken ankle treatments.
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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.
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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Whats The Difference Between An Ankle Sprain And Ankle Fracture
Your ankle is a complex joint comprised of ligaments, tendons, and three main bones: your talus, your fibula, and your tibia. These elements work together to help you move, and even a slight displacement in the joint can result in pressure or pain.
Both ankle sprains and fractures result from similar activities, such as tripping, falling, or twisting, and occur when the ankle is stressed at an angle. The difference is that sprains result when there is damage to the ligament, whereas ankle fractures require a break in the bone.
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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Can An Ankle Sprain Cause A Broken Ankle
A sprained ankle happens when you stretch or damage your ankle ligaments through overuse or injury. Think of a piece of elastic thats been through one too many cycles in the washer and dryer. You can have an ankle sprain because you have a broken ankle, but a sprained ankle won’t cause your ankle to break.
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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Braces Crutches And Casts Oh My: How To Treat A Fractured Ankle
Alas, not every accident can be avoided. If you break your ankle, how you care for it will vary based on the severity. Some ankle fracture treatments that your doctor may recommend include:
- Abrace or cast to keep the ankle immobile while it heals
- Crutches to keep weight off of the ankle
- Medication for any pain
- With more severe injuries, ankle fracture surgery or physical therapy may be necessary
Broken Ankle Recovery Tips
During recovery, its important to follow your doctors recommendations. This will help your broken ankle heal properly. Heres what you can do to ensure a smooth recovery:
- Avoid pressure. Try not to use your injured foot. When you walk or move, dont apply weight on your ankle until your doctor allows you to do so.
- Rest. Dont carry heavy items or play sports. If you need to go somewhere, ask family or friends. Your doctor will tell you when its safe to use your ankle.
- Physical therapy. When your bones start to heal, your doctor might have you do physical therapy. A physical therapist can show you how to exercise your ankle. These moves will strengthen the ankle bones.
- Eat healthy. Like all injuries, a broken ankle needs enough nutrients to heal. Eating a balanced diet will support recovery.
- If you smoke, consider quitting.Smoking slows down bone healing. Cigarette smoke has ingredients that disrupt your bodys ability to make new bone tissue. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but a doctor can help you create a smoking cessation plan right for you.
- Attend follow-up appointments. During recovery, visit the doctor regularly. Theyll need to check that your bone is healing correctly.
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Should I Go To Er For Ankle Injury
Go to urgent care if your pain level and swelling is significant and you have difficulty walking, to the point that you need assistance, due to the pain. Go to the emergency room if your foot is bruised, deformed, or you are unable to walk at all. You may have a fracture, broken bone or serious ligament damage.
Dont Just Leave Your Ankle To Heal On Its Own
Even if you think you have just a mild sprain, its important to seek medical care. Ankle fractures and sprains that arent treated correctly and allowed to heal on their own can lead to complications like long-term problems with your gait, recurrent ankle sprains, and serious ankle instability.
Getting proper care for your ankle injury means you can get back to doing the activities you love safely and with confidence.
If youve suffered an ankle injury, call any of the offices of Apple Podiatry, or book your appointment online. We can guide your healing and long-term foot and ankle health.
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Diagnosing Your Ankle Stress Fracture
If youre experiencing symptoms in your ankle, dont wait for the pain to become severe. You can get a proper diagnosis and treatment by seeing a doctor, and its best to treat a fracture early rather than risk more damage to the bone.
At Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center, our team examines your ankle, asks you about your exercise routine and typical physical activity, and reviews your medical history to rule out other risk factors for developing stress injuries. Next, we use imaging techniques such as X-rays to take a closer look at the bones in your ankle.
If our experts determine that a stress fracture is causing your symptoms, they encourage rest, ice, compression, elevation and may recommend anti-inflammatory medication, special footwear, or a cast to keep your ankle in the right position while it heals.
Call or make an appointment online today to get a proper diagnosis and excellent care for all of your foot and ankle needs.
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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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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
How To Know For Sure
Injuries are traumas to the body. Extra stress comes from not knowing how to help it. Youre not expected to know a sprained or broken ankle off the bat.
Ankle injuries are common, so you can be sure we can help.
Sprained ankles are urgent mattersso tend to them with urgent care. Reserve your spot now to ensure that help is on the way.
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What To Do If You Break Your Ankle
If you think you have a broken ankle, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the National Health Service says that you can do several other things to take care of yourself, including:
- Keep weight off your foot. Elevate your ankle and prop it up on cushions.
- Apply ice. This will minimize pain and swelling.
- Apply pressure. If youre bleeding, wrap the wound with a clean dressing.
If an auto collision or injury caused your broken ankle, or if the bone is sticking out of the skin, get medical help immediately.
Every injury is different. According to the NHS, the best treatment depends on the type and seriousness of your ankle break.
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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Guide To Ankle Strains Sprains And Broken Ankles
Sometimes in life, we are just plain clumsy. While slips and falls often result in hurt pride, they can also leave you with more serious injuries such as strains, sprains, or breaks. When the injury occurs in a joint, like the ankle, it can be hard to tell how serious it is. The treatment process for a broken ankle differs from that of a sprain or strain, so it is important to determine which type of injury you are dealing with so that it can be properly treated.
While we never recommend self-diagnosis, its important to understand your symptoms because the severity of the injury can inform your decision about what type of treatment you should seek. Below we detail common signs and symptoms for strained, sprained, and broken ankles.
What Happens During Orif Surgery For An Ankle Fracture
- Your surgeon makes incisions to open your ankle joint to access your broken ankle bones.
- They line up your ankle’s broken pieces. This is called reduction.
- Your surgeon uses tools such as metal plates, screws or wires to connect your ankle’s broken pieces. This is calledinternal fixation.
- They close the incision.
- Your surgeon will put your ankle in a cast or brace.
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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.
Symptoms Of An Ankle Sprain
After youve given the cause of your ankle injury some thought its time to evaluate your symptoms. Here are the ones you should look out for a sprain:
- You have pain but can put weight on your ankle
- Swelling or bruising develops but not immediately
- Ankle sprains will improve within a few days, a broken ankle will not
Here is a great resource to learn more about sprained ankles.
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