Q:

How can I tell if my ankle is broken or sprained?

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Quick Answer

A swollen and tender ankle that is still movable is likely a sprained ankle, while a broken ankle is typically swollen, bruised, numb, tender and deformed, according to Sports Injury Advice. Sprains usually result from stepping on an uneven surface, twisting the foot or losing balance. A broken ankle usually results from a hard fall or heavy impact.

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How can I tell if my ankle is broken or sprained?
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Full Answer

Common symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling and inflammation, according to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. This type of injury occurs when one or more ligaments are twisted, torn or stretched.

Sports Injury Advice explains that a sprained ankle is usually more painful than a broken one. However, a person can still walk with a sprained ankle, but the injury is often painful. When a person experiences sudden, severe pain and the ankle becomes deformed, the injury is likely a broken ankle, according to Sports Injury Advice, and individuals often cannot place any weight on the affected foot. The NHS states that pain, inability to walk, swelling and a "crack" sound usually indicate a broken or fractured ankle.

It is important to see a health care provider to determine whether an ankle is broken or simply sprained, according to Sports Injury Advice. Doctors generally take an X-ray to find out the exact injury and conduct a stress test to determine if surgery is necessary.

Learn more about Breaks & Sprains

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some ways to break your ankle?

    A:

    Common causes of a broken ankle include car crashes, the impact of a heavy object, falls, twisting the ankle and overuse, states Mayo Clinic. High-impact sports, faulty sports equipment, particular work environments, certain medical conditions, gender differences and a cluttered, poorly lit home may lead to a broken ankle.

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  • Q:

    How do you sprain your ankle?

    A:

    According to WebMD, most ankle sprains occur when a person makes a rapid shifting motion while the foot is planted, causing the ankle to either roll outward or the foot to roll inward. This stretches and damages the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. An opposite reaction, in which the ankle rolls inward and the foot rolls outward, can cause a sprained ankle, but this situation is less common.

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  • Q:

    How do you break your ankle?

    A:

    The most common causes of a broken ankle as reported by Mayo Clinic, are auto accidents, falls, twisting your ankle, and overuse or repetitive force. The severity of a fracture can range from a hairline crack, to a splintering of the bone severe enough to pierce the skin.

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  • Q:

    What do you do for a sprained ankle?

    A:

    In a grade 1 sprain in which the ligaments supporting the ankle have been stretched, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Grade 2 sprains in which the ligaments are partially torn require stabilizing the joint with a splint. Grade 3 sprains that completely tear or rupture ligaments often require surgery. See a doctor for proper diagnosis.

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