How can you determine if you have a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle?

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Anyone who is feeling pain in their ankle may be worried about either an ankle sprain or fracture. However, people may not know how to distinguish between these two issues. 

Ankle sprains are by far the more common of the two ankle conditions, and one four-year medical study reports that more than 3.1 million ankle sprains occurred during the course of the study. Another four-year study found that more than 673,000 ankle fractures occurred during the time in question. 

Knowing the symptoms of a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle is one way to determine which issue you have. Physical therapists can help you learn how to determine if you have a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle. 

Five questions that can help you tell the difference between a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle: 

  1. Do you have severe pain that’s getting worse? — A broken ankle tends to cause severe pain immediately and get better over time. Sprained ankles may not feel too painful at first, but the pain they cause can become more severe over time if they aren’t treated. 
  2. Did your pain start after you rolled or twisted your ankle or after a hard blow to your ankle? — A direct blow to your ankle is more likely to cause a fracture. Rolling or twisting your ankle is more common with ankle sprains. 
  3. Did you hear a pop or a crack when you injured your ankle? — People with both ankle fractures and sprains have reported hearing a popping sound at the time they were injured. However, cracking sounds are more likely with a fracture. 
  4. Do you feel pain directly over a bone? — Feeling pain directly over a bone is more likely a sign of a broken ankle. 
  5. Is your pain located in a soft part of your ankle? — When comparing a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle, pain in a soft part of the ankle typically indicates a sprain. 

Armor PT can help you tell if you have a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle

Still not sure if you’ve developed a sprained ankle versus a broken ankle? Our top-notch team at Armor Physical Therapy is ready to help you learn which ankle injury you have. We can evaluate your ankle during a free screening and reveal how your ankle has been injured. Then, our physical therapists can build you a therapy plan designed to address the specific injury you have. You can even sign up for a virtual care or at-home therapy appointment with us so you don’t have to leave home. 

Contact us today for more information about how we can treat ankle injuries or to schedule your initial appointment. 

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