The 411 On Ankle Injuries: Sprain Or Something More?

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From running and walking to jumping, standing, and pivoting, the ankle is one of the most used joints in the body. Not surprisingly, the ankle is one of the most injured parts of the body. As a matter of fact, 20 percent of all sports injuries are related to the ankle. Whether sprained or fractured, an ankle injury can be incredibly painful. In addition, both types of injuries will affect your ability to walk, run, and complete normal everyday activities. With proper understanding, you will learn if your ankle injury is a sprain or something more so you can receive the proper treatment.


Signs of ankle sprains vary from person to person. However, the most common signs of a sprain are severe pain and swelling.

In cases where the sprain is only mild, the skin around the ankle may be tender to the touch. Bruising is also common.

If the sprain is more severe, the swelling will be more severe, reducing your ability to wear shoes. Walking or placing any weight onto the affected ankle will be difficult and painful.

If you believe your injury is a sprain, you should still take it seriously. Most experts believe R.I.C.E. therapy is best for a sprain. R.I.C.E therapy involves Resting the injured ankle, icing it for a few minutes each day, using compression that includes wrapping the ankle to reduce swelling, and elevating the ankle to promote blood circulation.


It may be surprising to learn, but many injuries are actually fractures and not sprains. A sprain may only require R.I.C.E therapy that you can complete on your own, but fractures require immediate medical attention.

Pain, swelling, and an inability to walk on the ankle is common with both sprains and fractures, but a fracture will show other more serous signs, too.

A visible change in the way your ankle looks is one of the most common signs of an actual ankle fracture. If the ankle appears deformed, completely turned, or you see actual bone penetrating the skin, it is most likely fractured. Most fractures will also cause your ankle and foot to feel numb.

Doctors will visually examine the ankle injury before ordering an x-ray to determine if there is an actual break. Aligning the fractured ankle and securing it in place using a cast may be possible.

If the fracture is more severe, surgery may be recommended.

Preventing accidents and injuries is not always possible, but preparations can be made to understand the signs to diagnose these injuries. This guide and your doctor will help you understand the differences between an ankle sprain and fracture. If you need help recovering from an ankle injury, contact a sports physical therapy clinic near you.