Ankle Sprain or Fracture: Know the Difference

Auditorium Shores Park has a great off-leash dog area, and it’s a great place to go jogging, too. Just remember, to wear stable shoes if you take your dog for a run. When a lot of dogs get together, you never know quite how they’ll behave! If they run circles around you, you could end up tripping over the leash and twisting your foot. There you would be, sitting on the ground with ankle pain, wondering if it’s a sprain or fracture.

How do you tell the difference? Pain, swelling, and not being able to bear weight can happen with both injuries. Often X-rays are ordered to rule out fractures, but research has found that many times they are not needed. The experts at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists have the experience to know the signs. We can use the “Ottawa ankle rules” to first check for pain in certain areas that would indicate a likely fracture. Tenderness in specific spots on the lower leg bones, on the navicular bone, and on the 5th metatarsal, plus not being able to take even four steps on the injured ankle, mean X-rays may be needed to confirm a broken bone.

With a sprain, ankle pain is more likely to occur along the outside of the ankle, because you are more likely to land on the outer edge of your foot and those ligaments are the ones damaged. With a mild sprain, they are only stretched a bit too far, but if they are partially or completely torn, you will have more pain and the ankle will feel wobbly. Severe sprains may not allow weight-bearing at all.

It is really important to let an ankle sprain or fracture heal properly and completely before you get back to your normal activities. This is especially true for those who play tennis, basketball, or other sports that require frequent stopping, turning or jumping, and for gymnasts and dancers as well. Let us guide your healing process and recommend physical therapy that will get you in tip-top shape again. Give Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists a call at (512) 328-8900 when playing sports—or even walking your dog—leaves you with an injured ankle.

Most people who have searched this content have also found The Lows of a High Ankle Sprain helpful.

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Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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