Is it a Sprained or Broken Ankle? 5 Ways to Tell

sprained or broken ankle

2 million people suffer from ankle injuries a year. Among them, 400,000 come from sports injuries. Given that sports are the expected place for injuries, that means most of them are unexpected.

Running, walking, and jumping are risks for sprained or broken ankles. Given that feet house 26 bones and 107 ligaments, it can be hard to know the difference. 

Their differences depend on the location of the injury as well as its severity. Learning about both can help you proceed with the right sprained ankle treatments. 

Here’s what to do for a sprained ankle.

Is It a Sprained or Broken Ankle?

Many people think sprains are minor and breaks are major. While it’s true you don’t need a plaster cast for a sprain, sprains can be more complex and longer-lasting than a full-on break. 

In the thick of a pain-searing moment, it’s near impossible to know the difference—all you know’s that it hurts. Here’s how to find out.

1. Bearing Weight

The easiest way to decipher between a sprained or broken ankle is your ability to bear weight. If you can’tmove your foot or bear any weight, it’s likely a break. 

Sprains come in many forms. A high ankle sprain versus low ankle sprain can explain why you’re bruised in upper or lower regions of the foot. Inflammation can illuminate where the main trauma occurred.

2. Severity of Injury

A mild twist or tweak’s an easy sprain. Landing on your foot sideways or hearing a pop can be a break.

Keeping tabs on your symptoms can help you at urgent care. Symptoms are similar for sprains and breaks, so it’s important to get assessed right away. A doctor can help you learn the severity of the sprain and declare it a grade 1, 2, or 3.

3. Doctor’s Orders

It’s hard to nurse a sprain alone unless it’s clearly minor. If you’re able to walk it off, as they say, it can self-correct. 

For serious twists, you’re on the clock. Bruises and inflammation don’t take long to flare, so it’s best to see a doctor immediately. You may need an X-ray to see what’s beneath the swelling.

4. Next Steps

After you’re examined, you’ll learn what to do for a sprained ankle. This may involve the following.

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • Using an athletic brace or crutches if advised
  • Getting physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories for pain relief

Every injury’s different. Visiting the doctor can help you know how to navigate your sprained ankle recovery. 

5. Time Will Tell

It’s important to use time to track your own recovery. Your doctor can tell you when to expect relief based on the rigor of your sprain. If you’re not seeing improvements based on those suggestions, you may need another visit.

There’s a protocol for sprained ankle treatment. Too much ice or compression can set you back. Use your doctor’s support and make sure to be extra gentle.

How to Know for Sure

Injuries are traumas to the body. Extra stress comes from not knowing how to help it. You’re not expected to know a sprained or broken ankle off the bat.

Ankle injuries are common, so you can be sure we can help.

Sprained ankles are urgent matters—so tend to them with urgent care. Reserve your spot now to ensure that help is on the way.