Some fractures and ankle sprains present similar symptoms, which if not treated properly can lead to additional problems.
Ankle fractures and sprains are common injuries, even if you’re not an athlete. A fracture is a break in a bone, no matter how small. A sprain involves an injury to the ligaments, which connect, stabilize, and support the bones in the lower leg and the ankle bone.
Unfortunately, some fractures are so subtle that they often are missed on an initial exam or misdiagnosed as sprains. Without the proper diagnosis and treatment, you could be at risk for long-term disability or surgery.
Here’s how to gauge whether you need immediate help:
- Is your ankle swollen? A fracture or sprain will trigger swelling.
- Can you stand or walk? If you can’t, don’t keep trying. You have a severe sprain or a fracture that requires prompt care. If you can, you still might have a fracture, so elevate your leg, ice the injury, and monitor the swelling. If you don’t notice relief after a day or two, call your doctor. Pain increases with activity with a fracture, so also seek help right away if the pain worsens suddenly.
- Does your foot look twisted or deformed? Is there a bump on or around the ankle? Even a small fracture can cause a bump or what appears to be a deformity.
- Is there bruising? A sprain tends to cause bruising beneath the ankle joint and along the foot. With a fracture, bruising tends to surround the ankle joint.
- Does your foot feel numb or cold? These sensations can indicate a fracture or a nerve injury. You might feel as if heat is rushing through the ankle joint, but this is common with sprains or fractures because of blood rushing to the area.
The orthopedic staff at the Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point has a full array of methods and advanced equipment to evaluate your injuries. This includes MRI, CT, ultrasound, diagnostic imaging, and fluoroscopy. For more information, or to speak with one of our orthopedic specialists, visit our website or call (727) 819-2929.