Foot or Ankle Sprain or Fracture: How To Tell These Apart?


You are holiday shopping and you step off the curb, land wrong and … ouch! Or you are flying down a ski slope, begin to fall and the tip of your ski is caught in the snow so the boot doesn’t release quickly enough from the binding … double ouch! Chances are you have injured your foot or ankle. But how do you know if it is a sprain or if you have actually broken a bone?

Sprains and Fractures Show Similar Symptoms

Both sprains and fractures can be serious injuries and require professional care. A sprain is a torn tendon or a soft tissue injury. A fracture indicates that a bone has been broken. 

Both fractures and sprains show similar symptoms. The first is pain which may be severe. Other symptoms include swelling, bruising and an inability to bear weight.

When you first injure your foot or ankle, treat it by:

  • Resting. Stop any activity and avoid walking or standing on the foot.

  • Compression. Braces can be used to reduce swelling, and speed recovery.

  • Icing. Apply ice to the affected area 2 or 3 times a day for 20 minutes each.

  • Elevating. Keep your leg and foot elevated as much as possible.

If the pain is acute and you are unable to bear any weight at all on the affected foot, you may have broken a bone. In this case, seek medical attention immediately. Walking or putting any pressure on the injured ankle or foot may cause further damage.

Even if you have experienced a sprain rather than a fracture, a professional diagnosis can confirm this. Treating a sprain or a fracture depends on the location of the injury and the extent of the damage to the foot or ankle.

Can You Tell If Your Injury Is a Sprain or a Fracture?

The bottom line is that, in many cases, it is very difficult to tell these two types of injuries apart. They both exhibit very similar symptoms.

The only way to know for sure if you have experienced a bone break is to get professional help from your podiatrist. There are many bones in your feet, ankles and toes and any of these may be fractured during a fall or other type of trauma.

Please Come See Us If You Have Any Foot or Ankle Pain

 The foot specialists at PodiatryCare, PC and the Heel Pain Center have extensive experience in treating all aspects of foot problems. Our team of doctors is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. Many treatments and surgeries can be handled right in our offices.

Please call us at (860) 741-3041 to make an appointment in one of our offices conveniently located in Enfield, Windsor and South Windsor, CT.