How Do I Know If I Broke My Ankle
Did you recently twist your ankle while falling? Or maybe step in a hole during a softball game? Or miss a step coming down the stairs?
If you are unable to walk after a recent ankle injury, then you may have an ankle fracture.
Do I have an ankle fracture or an ankle sprain? How can I tell if I broke my ankle?
Immediately after an ankle injury, it can be difficult to tell if you have a sprain or fracture. Both injuries can cause swelling and the inability to walk. Obtaining a radiograph is the best way to identify if you have broken your ankle. A bad ankle sprain can also cause swelling and inability to walk, and a simple x-ray will help determine if you have a broken ankle or an ankle sprain.
The orthopedic surgeons at Southwest Orthopedic Group can take an x-ray in office and determine if you have an ankle fracture.
What bones are broken in an ankle fracture?
The ankle is made up of the distal tibia and the fibula . These make the roof and the walls of the ankle joint. The talus bone makes up the floor of the ankle joint.
The ankle has three parts: the medial malleolus , posterior malleolus , and lateral malleolus or fibula .
An ankle fracture can occur in any, or all, of these bones.
Are ankle fractures/breaks common?
Ankle fractures are one of the most common fractures in the lower extremities. They can occur from childhood to the elder years.
Can I walk after an ankle fracture?
What are symptoms of an ankle fracture?
What will ankle x-rays show?
Treatment For A Sprained Ankle
Treatment for a sprained ankle aims to:
- reduce pain and swelling
- restore your full range of motion
- return your ankle to full strength
For the first few days, you can follow the RICE method to reduce swelling:
- Rest. Stay off your feet as much as possible.
- Ice. Ice your foot for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- Compression. Wear an elastic bandage that provides compression around the injured area.
- Elevation. Elevate your foot above the level of your heart when youre resting.
You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to help manage pain.
Once the swelling passes, your doctor may recommend that you visit a physical therapist. A physical therapist can put together a customized plan of stretches and exercises to help restore the function of your ankle.
Surgery is rarely needed to treat ankle sprains.
What Are The Complications With Ankle Fracture Surgery
Complications can include:
- Acute compartment syndrome: In this syndrome, pressure building in your muscles keeps your blood from getting to your muscles and tissues. ACS can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage.
- Malunion: This is when your broken bones dont line up so they can heal correctly.
- Bone infection : This happens if you have an open fracture. An open fracture is where your bone breaks through your skin, creating the risk of bacterial infection.
- Nerve or blood vessel damage: An ankle fracture can damage nerves and blood vessels.
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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.
What Causes A Stress Fracture In The Ankle
An ankle usually occurs some time after a person begins a new activity that involves significant impact of the foot, such as hiking, running or field sports. They can also occur in an active person who quickly increases their activity, for example when someone who is accustomed to jogging a few miles a week begins to train for a 26-mile marathon.
Stress fractures can occur in any of the three ankle bones, especially the tibia or fibula. They are also common in the navicular bone, which is separate from the ankle, but lies directly beneath the talus.
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What Is The Difference Between A Stress Fracture And A Bone Fracture
When youve hurt your ankle, it can be hard to tell if you have a stress fracture or a bone fracture.
A stress fracture is a tiny crack in your bone. Generally speaking, you have a stress fracture if the pain in your ankle gets worse over time. A bone fracture is when a fracture changes the shape of your bone.
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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.
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How Can You Tell The Difference
To help answer the question Is my ankle sprained or broken?, you must first ask a few questions:
- Did you hear a noise when the injury happened? Oftentimes, a sprain will happen silently, or with a popping sound in severe cases. With a fracture, there might be an audible crack.
- Is your ankle misshapen? While swelling is a symptom of both sprains and fractures, if your ankle looks out of alignment, its most likely because the bone is broken.
- Are you experiencing numbness? Sprains are painful, but fractures are often accompanied by numbness or tingling.
- Where are you experiencing pain? If your ankle hurts or is tender to the touch directly over the ankle bone, you probably have a fracture. By contrast, if the pain is in the soft part of the ankle, its more likely a sprain.
What Is A Broken Ankle
A broken ankle, or ankle fracture, is one of the most common causes of ankle pain. An ankle fracture happens when you break one or more bones in your ankle joint.
Your ankle joint consists of your tibia, your fibula and your talus. Your tibia is the big bone in your lower leg and is sometimes called your shinbone. Your fibula is a smaller, thinner bone in your lower leg. The lower ends of your fibula and tibia come together and butt up against your talus. Your talus is the main link between your leg and your foot.
You can break one or more ankle joint bones at the same time. The more bones you break, the more serious the injury. Serious fractures require ankle surgery. It can take several weeks to two years to fully recover from a broken ankle.
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How To Know If You’ve Sprained Your Ankle
This article was co-authored by Lee-Hsin Fang, DPM. Dr. Fang is a licensed Foot and Ankle Surgeon with his own medical practice in Mountain View, California. He received his Doctorate degree from California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco, California and completed his residency at the California College of Podiatric Medicine in 1999.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 18 testimonials and 87% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 979,394 times.
An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries. It is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the ankle. Sprains occur most commonly in the ATF ligament because it runs along the outside of your ankle. The outer ligaments are not as strong as the inner ligaments. Through the forces of physics, gravity and our own body weight we stretch the ligament beyond its normal capacity. This causes tears in the ligament and surrounding small blood vessels. A sprain is like a rubber band pulled and stretched too tightly, causing tears along the surface, making it unstable.
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.
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Common Ankle Strain Symptoms
Although it is the least severe of the three injuries, joint strains should be taken seriously if you want to avoid further injury. A strained ankle is the result of overstretched or torn muscles and tendons. When determining the difference between a strain and a sprain its important to remember a few key differences. Its important to note that there are degrees of a joint strain, and symptoms vary by case. Your ankle may be strained if you have any of the following symptoms.
Pain is the most common symptom of any injury, and a strained ankle is no different. This pain may be immediate or increase gradually depending on the severity of the strain. Most of us use our ankles every day, and prolonged use can bring the pain of a strained ankle to the surface.
Inflammation, Swelling, or Redness
Swelling or discoloration at the site of the injury may be an indication of a strain. Additionally, a strained ankle may be warm to the touch. If you experience this symptom, ice your ankle and keep it elevated.
Muscle Cramps and Weakness
If youve strained your ankle, you might experience muscle cramps in your shins, calves, or feet. In some cases, you might not be able to do normal activities such as walking, running, or jumping without pain.
Loss of Motion
In the case of mild strains, your ankle may become stiff with pain, limiting your range of motion. In instances of severe joint strain the ankle can even go limp.
How To Know If Your Ankle Is Broken
If you sustain an injury to your ankle and wonder whether it is broken or not, you should remain calm and assess your symptoms. A broken ankle is quite painful, especially when you try to move it or put weight on it. The ankle is usually swollen from blood or fluid accumulating at the site of injury and it may be discolored or bruised. Less common symptoms of a broken ankle can be feeling a numb or tingling sensation and/or what is called crepitus or a feeling of bone grinding on bone when the ankle is manipulated. Beyond a bone sticking out of the flesh, the only way to know for sure if you have a broken ankle is to obtain an X-ray or bone scan. If the ankle is broken, these diagnostic tests will show that something is out of place. A CT scan or MRI may be ordered to determine the severity of the break. It is vital to see a podiatrist if you have injured your ankle as this professional can order the appropriate test and proceed to treat the fracture or whatever condition might be identified.
Broken ankles need immediate treatment. If you are seeking treatment, contact Donald Harrison, DPM from Foot and Ankle Institute of Maryland. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.
Broken Ankles A broken ankle is experienced when a person fractures their tibia or fibula in the lower leg and ankle area. Both of these bones are attached at the bottom of the leg and combine to form what we know to be our ankle.
Symptoms of a Fractured Ankle
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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.
Recovering From A Broken Ankle
A broken ankle usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal, but it can take longer.
The doctor will tell you:
- how long youâll have to wear the boot or have the plaster cast on
- how much weight to put on your ankle you may be given crutches or a walking frame to help keep weight off it
Once itâs healed, use your ankle as normal. Moving it will stop it getting stiff.
You may need to see a physiotherapist. They can help you with exercises to get your foot and ankle gently moving again.
Ask your doctor when you can return to contact sports or other activities that put a lot of strain on your ankle.
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Bimalleolar Fractureand Bimalleolar Equivalent Fracture
A bimalleolar fracture occurs when both the medial malleolus and lateral malleolus are broken. Since there are injuries to both sides of the ankle, bimalleolar fractures are frequently unstable, and the ankle is often dislocated.
A stable bimalleolar fracture may be treated with cast immobilization for several weeks. During this time, you cannot put weight on your ankle. While you are in the cast, your doctor will take X-rays to make sure that the bones do not slip out of place.
Because there are injuries to both sides of the ankle, most bimalleolar fractures need surgical repair. This is usually done with a plate and screws.
A bimalleolar fracture occurs when both the medial malleolus and lateral malleolus are broken.
Surgical repair of bimalleolar fracture with screws and plate and screws .
A bimalleolar equivalent fracture means that the ligaments on the inside part of the ankle are injured, and that only one bone has broken. The torn ligaments can cause the lower bone to shift and the ankle joint to go partially out of place or dislocate. Treatment involves putting the joint back in place and repairing the broken bone.
A bimalleolar equivalent fracture with torn ligaments on the medial side and a broken lateral malleolus.
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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
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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