Breaking a bone can be excruciatingly painful, and about six million Americans experience a broken bone every year.
Ankle injuries are very common, especially among people who are very physically active. Plenty of different types of injuries can occur, but many people don’t know how to tell the difference. If you get hurt, it’s important to know what the problem is so you can seek the right treatment.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know to be able to determine if you have a sprained ankle or broken bone. Keep reading for more.
The Difference Between a Sprain and a Break
The ankle has three main bones (the talus, fibula, and tibia) along with various ligaments and tendons. Displacing any of these can cause a lot of pain, so it’s easy to think you’ve broken a bone when you actually haven’t. Tripping, falling, twisting, and stress (usually at an angle) are all common causes of ankle injuries.
A sprain is the result of damage to a ligament. A break (or fracture) is when one of the bones is broken. While these are very different, it can be difficult to tell them apart from the pain alone.
How to Tell if You Have a Sprained Ankle or Broken Bone
Whether you have a sprained or a broken ankle, you’ll likely experience symptoms like swelling, bruising, and pain. It will probably be difficult to put weight on the injured ankle.
The best way to determine the exact nature of the injury is by going to the doctor. Seeking out emergency room service immediately after the injury is recommended as a professional can determine the issue and get your treatment started straight away. If you ignore it, your ankle may take longer to heal things could even get worse.
Signs of a Sprained Ankle
If you have a sprain, you may be able to put some weight on it straight away, or sometimes after several hours. Most people describe the pain as being mid-to-moderate.
You’ll lack stability in your ankle, so walking may be a bit tricky. There’s also likely to be a bit of swelling and bruising.
Signs of a Broken Ankle
Broken ankles are typically more painful, causing moderate-to-severe pain. There can also be numbness. You almost certainly won’t be able to put any weight on your ankle for at least several days after the injury.
Swelling and bruising are common and usually appear immediately. You may also notice some deformation in your ankle.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
If you have extreme pain, difficulty walking, or ankle deformation, you should seek medical care immediately. A doctor will likely put you in an ankle cast to help you with the recovery process.
If you think it’s a sprain, it may heal on its own. If it doesn’t seem to get any better after a few days of rest and ice, however, you should seek medical attention.
Healing an Ankle
Whether you have a sprained ankle or broken bone, you need to make sure you take the time to recover. Follow the guidance of your doctor, and let them know if there are any issues.
For more health-related articles, check out some of our other blog posts.