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Ankle injuries are common. It only takes a momentary misstep to twist your ankle, resulting in a strain, sprain, or fracture. Strains occur when a tendon or muscle is stretched or torn, but the most severe ankles involve sprains or fractures. These two injuries can produce similar symptoms, and you may only know which injury you have with a medical exam. If you have a swollen, painful ankle, you may wonder whether it is sprained or broken. The following are some signs to tell the difference.

Sprained Ankle Symptoms

Multiple ligaments in the ankle connect the three prominent bones of the ankle joint, which are the fibula, tibia, and talus. These ligaments can stretch and tear when your ankle twists or turns too far. Ankle sprains are very painful – they can be as painful as a fracture, sometimes more so. Some of the signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Swelling almost immediately after the injury
  • Tenderness along the soft areas of the ankle
  • Sprains can occur silently, but severe tears may make a popping sound
  • Inability to add weight to the ankle/foot
  • Bruising
  • Severe pain during injury

Sprains are very painful when they occur. The ankle will be very tender, but most sprains can heal on their own with home care. Using the R.I.C.E. method for mild to moderate sprains is recommended – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Most sprains heal over several days using this method, but if a sprain does not improve, it may require medical treatment.

Fracture Ankle Symptoms

You can have an ankle fracture and not realize it. The symptoms are very similar to a sprain, especially if only one of the ankle bones is fractured. Ankle fractures will have swelling, tenderness, and bruising like a sprain. You will not be able to put weight on your ankle without pain. You may notice some differences that can indicate you have a fracture, not a sprain.

  • Pain is located at the boney parts of the ankle
  • There was a cracking sound when the injury occurred
  • Your ankle looks misshapen or deformed beyond just swollen
  • You may experience numbness or tingling
  • You are unable to walk or stand on your ankle

When you fracture your ankle, you may also sprain it simultaneously. This is why it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two injuries. It is best to seek medical treatment to determine the extent of your injury and determine the best form of treatment.

Ankle Injury Treatment in NYC and Miami

If you have a severe ankle injury, either a torn ligament or a fracture, and need expedient treatment to get back on your feet again, contact the office of Jonathan L. Glashow, MD. We can schedule a consultation with our top orthopedists to determine the best treatment for your ankle for a fast recovery.

Posted on behalf of Jonathan Glashow, MD

737 Park Ave, #1A
New York, NY 10021

Phone: (212) 794-5096


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