One minute you’re walking around and the next you find yourself losing your footing and within seconds feel pain in your ankle. Some may experience this type of injury by losing your balance while walking while others may injure themselves during exercise or while playing a sport but regardless of how the injury occurs, the question remains is it sprained or fractured?
What’s the difference?
A fracture is when the injury results in a break in the bone whereas a sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Regardless of the diagnosis, both can be extremely painful. Before seeing an orthopedic doctor you can help gauge your injury by asking yourself these questions:
- Is the pain localized to a soft tissue area, rather than near a bone? If this is the case you most likely are suffering from a sprain.
- Is the pain located near the ankle bone? Is it difficult to apply pressure to the foot? If the answer is yes, there may be a break so it is best to consult with a physician.
When to call an orthopedic doctor for ankle pain
If you are unsure about the severity of your injury, wait between two to four days but in the process of waiting it out, treat your ankle injury using the RICE method.
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate
- Rest your ankle by staying off of it for as long as you can.
- Ice your ankle for 20 minutes on then 20 off as frequently as you need.
- Compress your ankle injury using an Ace bandage or a splint which can all be found at local drugstores.
- Elevate your foot at a level that is even with your heart to allow the blood to flow properly.
Although life may be hectic, when an ankle injury occurs it is best to not push through as that can cause more damage such as ligament damage and weakness in the ankle.
After following the RICE method and the pain has not subsided and you have bruising or blisters and trouble putting weight on the ankle, calling our Atlanta orthopedic doctors should be your next step.
After meeting with your doctor they will determine what tests are need to be performed and those could be anything from an xray to an MRI. An x ray can determine if the bone is broken and the MRI can detect if there is ligament damage. Most injuries to the ankle can be healed without surgery but if surgery is necessary, plates and screws may be placed on the side of the bone and a rod may be used to realign the broken bone.