Is my Ankle Rolled or Broken?
We have all rolled our ankle at some stage in our life but how do we know if it is more than just a very mild sprain?
Every year in Australia, hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room with ankle injuries.
Of these, the majority are sprains and fractures, and in many cases, it can be hard to tell the two apart at first.
While a fracture refers to a break in one or more of the ankle bones (tibia, fibula, talus or calcaneus), a sprained ankle refers to damage to the ligaments of the ankle due to overstretching beyond their normal range of motion.
Both of these conditions can be very painful and occur as a result of similar injuries, but may require a very different management. Some of the most common causes of ankle pain include sports injuries, walking on uneven surfaces and car accidents. So, with the symptoms being so similar, how can you tell a broken or sprained ankle apart? The Ottawa Ankle rules are the best predictor of requiring X-rays.
The other indications with your ankle having something more serious wrong with it are
if there was a sound when you were injured. A “cracking” noise may be a sign that the ankle is broken while sprains may be associated with a “popping” sound. Second, check if the ankle appears deformed or crooked in addition to being swollen as this may be a sign of a fracture.
Third, the presence of numbness is indicative of a fracture. Moreover, if you cannot move the ankle joint at all, are in extreme pain, and cannot put any weight at all on the ankle, it is likely that it is broken.
To be sure, it is important that you have a thorough physical examination by a health professional specialising in the musculoskeletal system. (this should include looking for bony tenderness as well as multiple special tests, This is usually done by a physiotherapist, a sports doctor or surgeon, If warranted further scans may requested including an X-ray, an MRI, a CT or an ultrasound.
If, after 24- 48hours your pain is not getting better or getting worse or your swelling is not getting better or getting worse please seek a health professional in your area.
Sean Yates | Physiotherapist | Doctor of Physiotherapy | Bachelor of Exercise Science |
ASCA level 1 | AWF Level 1 coach | Functional Patterns Level 1, 2, 3 | Human Biomechanics Specialist | Dry Needling | Clinical Pilates Level 1, 2, 3 | APA sports Level 1 | Watson Headache Level 1 | IASTM - Smart Tools Instructor |