Ankle Sprains vs. Ankle Fractures

If you twisted or rolled your ankle, you may feel tempted to dismiss it as “just a sprain.” But there’s no “just” about a sprained ankle. And it might be more than that. Fractured ankles share many of the same symptoms as sprained ankles, but can lead to even poorer outcomes.

Podiatrist Michael J. Frazier, founder of The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center in Cypress, Texas, encourages you to take your ankle and foot pain seriously. If you’ve suffered an ankle injury, getting a thorough evaluation lets you know what damage you’ve done and how best to correct it so you can walk and play pain free again.

Wondering if you have an ankle sprain or an ankle fracture? Here’s how to tell.

It’s a sprain

Sprains are stretches or tears to the ligaments that stabilize your ankle. Ligaments attach your bones to one another.

Sprained ligaments tend to afflict young people more than older ones, but anyone can sprain an ankle. The reason they’re so common between ages 15-19 years is that that’s when people tend to be most active in sports. In fact, about half of ankle sprains in that age group occur during athletic events, such as a soccer or basketball game.

Whether you were jumping for a hoop or just climbing the stairs, if you sprain your ankle, you probably felt it pretty quickly. You may have even heard it: Your ligament may make a “popping” sound if it actually tears in two. 

Signs of a sprain include:

Even a mild (grade 1) or moderate (grade 2) sprain needs to be stabilized so you can go about your business. A severe sprain (grade 3) usually means that you have to wear a brace and use crutches until your ligament heals. Dr. Frazier may even recommend surgery to repair the tear.

It’s a fracture

When you twist, turn, or roll your ankle, or if your foot collides with a solid object, you may actually break your ankle. 

Your ankle joint consists of three bones:

The ends of the fibula and talus are the knobby parts that you usually think of as your ankle. But all three bones are part of your ankle, and any of them can suffer a break. 

Symptoms of a fractured ankle include:

Notice the problem? Both sprains and fractures share important symptoms. If your ankle is fractured you might also — but won’t necessarily — have visible bone or foot deformity.

It’s both

Yes, if you’re super unlucky or supercharged to win, you could sprain an ankle ligament and also break one or more of your ankle bones. 

Treating either a sprained, fractured, or sprained-and-fractured ankle is important to avoid complications, such as:

Find out if your ankle is sprained or fractured and get the relief and recovery you need by contacting us today. Phone our office at 281-607-1863 or use our online appointment form.

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