Broken Ankle vs Sprained Ankle: How to Tell the Difference

Are you worried about injuring your ankle?

Ankle injuries are common and can leave you out of action for weeks or months, depending on their severity. But not all ankle injuries are fractures. There are plenty of other injuries, such as sprained and broken ankles, that can cause a lot of pain and leave you unable to walk properly.

But how do you know if it’s a broken ankle vs sprained ankle? Is there a difference?

This article will give you a comprehensive guide to the differences between sprained ankles and broken ankles. Read on to discover more!

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Ankle

Broken ankle vs sprained ankle has very different signs and symptoms. It is important to be able to tell the difference between them. A broken ankle can cause severe pain, swelling, bruising, and an inability to put weight on the affected ankle.

You may also notice a deformity, where the ankle looks out of position, or notice a grinding or cracking sensation when rotating the foot. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

If you have suffered a sprained ankle, you may experience less intense pain, swelling, and bruising. You may also feel instability or an inability to fully support your weight.

It is important to note that the signs of a broken ankle can often be similar to those of a sprained one, so you should seek medical attention as soon as possible in order to receive a proper diagnosis.

Diagnostic Imaging Tests for Fractures and Strains

X-rays and CT scans are most commonly used to diagnose a fracture by determining the shape and location of the bone. For a strain, MRI scans are often used to detect swelling and to show the position of the fibers in the ligaments.

In general, a broken ankle will feel more intense and more difficult to move around, while a sprained ankle will typically cause more pain with movement. Diagnostic imaging tests play an important role in helping distinguish between the two conditions.

Treatment and Recovery 

Treatment and recovery from a broken ankle and a sprained ankle will be different from each other. It is very important to distinguish between the two in order to receive the correct treatment. If you suspect a broken ankle, you should seek immediate medical care.

X-rays are usually the confirmation of a broken ankle. For a sprained ankle, treatment usually consists of RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed.

A visit to a doctor may be necessary to ensure proper alignment is maintained. Recovery from a sprained ankle will take approximately 10-14 days, with the use of a brace or wrap. Recovery from a broken ankle may require a cast, and will generally take 4-12 weeks for the bones to heal properly.

It is important to perform any exercises or therapy recommended by your doctor for a full recovery. It is also essential to get a certification at to have extensive knowledge of first aid.

Learning the Difference Between Broken Ankle vs Sprained Ankle

A broken ankle vs sprained ankle requires medical attention, but they are two distinct and separate injuries. Knowing their differences can make a significant medical difference and will make sure you receive proper care.

If you suspect you may have an ankle injury, see a medical professional right away!

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