Do I Have an Ankle Sprain or Fracture?

Do I Have an Ankle Sprain or Fracture?

You’ve injured your ankle. You may have slipped on uneven ground or tripped while walking. Sports injuries and car accidents are other common reasons for ankle injuries.

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine treat many patients who have ankle sprains and ankle fractures. Our sports medicine experts also focus on prevention to help keep your ankles strong. 

Ankle sprains vs. fractures 

If you have a sprain, it means you’ve damaged a ligament, a band of strong tissue that joins your bones together. We grade sprains into three tiers based on whether you’ve torn your ligament(s) and how severe the tear is, or whether you’ve stretched a ligament but it’s still intact. 

An ankle fracture, on the other hand, indicates that you’ve broken a bone. The bone(s) could be cracked but still in place, or they could be displaced. In that case, your Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine surgeon needs to put them back in alignment for your foot to heal properly. 

Professional diagnosis of an ankle sprain vs. a fracture 

Any time you have an ankle injury that leaves you in pain and your ankle swollen, tender, bruised, and/or unstable, you should seek the services of one of our orthopedic surgeons right away. Walking on an injured ankle can lead to an unstable joint, arthritis, chronic inflammation, and more. 

Your doctor has our staff take X-rays from several angles. Your doctor can see most ankle fractures from the X-rays. 

Dr. Michael Hood or Dr. Robert Bobo asks if you can move your foot in various ways to see how your range of motion is impacted. They gently apply pressure to different points around your ankle to check for pain. If you can bear weight, they may ask you to walk several steps to check your gait. 

Signs of an ankle sprain vs. a fracture 

Following are some differences you may recognize between an ankle sprain and an ankle fracture. 


Did you hear something that sounds like a crack? It’s likely a fracture. 


Does your ankle look deformed? Is one side of your ankle and foot sticking out significantly? Does your ankle look like it’s in the wrong place? Your ankle is likely broken.


Is your ankle numb or do you feel a tingling sensation? You probably have a fracture. 


Is the pain right over the ankle bone? It’s likely a fracture. If it’s in the soft tissue, you may have a sprain. 

Ability to bear weight

If you can bear weight on your foot, you likely have a sprain. If you have a fracture, you probably can’t put weight on it. 


Can you move your ankle? It may be a sprain instead of a fracture. Fractures often prevent range of motion. 

Immediate treatment of an ankle sprain or fracture

If you’ve injured your ankle, whether it turns out to be a sprain or a fracture, follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method as soon as possible wherever you are before you have the chance to get to the doctor.

Start by getting the weight off of your ankle. Use an ice pack around the area off and on until you can see the doctor. Put an elastic bandage around your ankle to ease swelling and help protect it. Sit in a chair or lie in bed with your ankle above your heart using pillows under your foot. 

These steps can protect your ankle from further injury. 

For expert treatment of all of your musculoskeletal injuries, call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in West Memphis, Arkansas, or Collierville, Tennessee, or book an appointment online today.

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