Sprain vs. Break: What Happened to My Ankle?

An athlete lifts up his leg and there is a hotspot on his ankle.Let’s lay the scene: you are out with friends. You all have begun to play a game of soccer. The game starts to get intense when someone slides into your feet, knocking you down in a super awkward way. 

So you have an injured ankle and can barely put any weight on it. It hurts on its own and to the touch. It has discoloration and has begun to swell. Now, the question is: did you sprain ankle or break something? Many people struggle with this problem. Keep reading to learn more about ankle sprains and ankle breaks, or fractures, as well as how to tell the difference. 

What to Know About the Ankle Sprain

At its most basic, a sprain occurs when the ligaments in the area have been damaged. When you sprain your ankle, you have done damage to one of the following ligaments: the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, or the posterior talofibular ligament. 

Think of your ligaments as the stretchy bands that keep your bones where they need to be. Ligaments stabilize your joints. They bend, lengthen, and shorten, but they do have a stopping point. Sprains occur when the ligament has been stretched too far or been torn. 

What to Know About the Ankle Fracture

A fracture occurs when a bone gets chipped or completely breaks. A break in your ankle can impact one of the at least three bones there. Breaking only one of these bones can mask the problem, causing further problems down the line. When you break more than one bone in your ankle, walking becomes impossible because you can no longer stabilize yourself. A fracture can also lead to problems with your ligaments. 

Knowing the Difference Between a Broken and Sprained Ankle

Based on the experience of those at the Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Center, here are some tips on telling the difference between different ankle injuries:

  • The Noise - Sprains are either silent or create a popping noise. A break makes a louder “cracking” noise.
  • Your Ankle Shape - Swelling will occur with both injuries. If your ankle looks twisted or deformed, it is probably broken. 
  • Numbness - Sprains are painful. A break is typically numb or tingling. 
  • Location of the Pain - When the pain is on the soft area of your ankle, that is probably a sprain. You probably have a break if your ankle or the bone is tender.

Visit a Professional Foot and Ankle Specialist

Getting ice on the affected area right away can help. No matter what the injury, the best choice with all foot or ankle injuries is to see a doctor. The professional team at the Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Centers can help diagnose your injury and give you the care you need to heal thoroughly and quickly. 

Give the medical staff at the Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Centers at call today at Macomb (586) 416-3668, St. Clair Shores (586) 779-6140 or Warren (586) 756-3338 office.

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