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 it’s 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 what’s 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!       

What’s 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.      

How can I tell if it’s 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:

Signs of an ankle sprain

Signs of an ankle fracture

When should I seek medical attention for my ankle?

If your ankle is deformed, you’re experiencing extreme pain, or if you’re unable to walk at all, you shouldn’t wait to seek medical care. If you believe you have an ankle sprain but your injury isn’t improving after a few days of rest and ice, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center.

Ankle fractures that aren’t treated correctly can cause serious and debilitating complications. And ankle sprains that don’t heal properly can lead to recurrent ankle sprains and instability. It’s 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!

Ready to learn more about treatment options for ankle sprains and fractures? Contact the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center office most convenient to you or request an appointment online now!

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