Sometimes in life, we are just plain clumsy. While slips and
falls often result in hurt pride, they can also leave you with more serious
injuries such as strains, sprains or breaks. When the injury occurs in a joint,
like the ankle, it can be hard to tell how serious it is. The treatment process
for a broken ankle differs from that of a sprain or strain, so it is important
to determine which type of injury you are dealing with so that it can be
While we never recommend self-diagnosis, it’s important to understand
your symptoms because the severity of the injury can inform your decision about
what type of treatment you should seek. Below we detail common signs and
symptoms for strained, sprained and broken ankles.
Although it is the least severe of the three injuries, joint
strains should be taken seriously if you want to avoid further injury. A strained
ankle is the result of overstretched or torn muscles and tendons. Common
symptoms include muscle spasms, pain, swelling and loss of full range of motion.
Mild strains can be treated using the RICE technique, which includes:
If pain and swelling do not go down after a few days, seek
A sprained ankle occurs when ligaments are overstretched or
torn. This can be the result of an accident, overexertion or prolonged
repetitive motion. Like a strain, symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling
and limited flexibility. The big difference between the two is the bruising
that accompanies a sprain. Like a strain, a mild sprain can be treated with the
RICE method. As long as you stay off the injured ankle and allow it to heal,
you should recover quickly.
If symptoms do not resolve after a few days, seek medical
A broken ankle is the most severe type of ankle injury and
will need to be confirmed by a doctor using an x-ray. Signs your ankle is
broken include pain, swelling and bruising, accompanied by pale skin, inability
to move the toes and numbness. A cast or boot is usually required to help heal
a broken ankle, depending on which ankle bone is broken. Assuming surgery isn’t
needed, you should be back to normal after 4–8 weeks.
Whether you have a strain, sprain or break, ankle injuries
hurt. The best way to treat your injury is to seek care as soon as possible. Check
out our after
hours and walk-in services to get treatment that works with your schedule!