You fall or injure your ankle. Next you gauge your pain and ask: “Did I fracture my ankle or is it a sprain?” This scenario accounts for one of the most common lower extremity injuries. A simple twist or fall could cause a complex injury involving bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
What are the symptoms of each?
The best way to tell the extent of your injury is via a thorough evaluation by an Orthopedic Specialist in Foot and Ankle Care, such as Dr. Adam Miller. The specialist will be able to identify the nature of the injury, and they will most likely order imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI, before recommending a recovery plan.
Immediately following the injury, it is reasonable to assess the ankle with weight bearing. It is important to do so under the supervision of a physician if there is significant pain to ensure that you don’t cause additional damage. If there is little or no pain with walking, an ankle fracture is highly unlikely. Soreness with walking but the ability to walk normally suggests a contusion or sprain of the ankle. However, if you cannot stand on the ankle, an evaluation is warranted to rule out a broken ankle or ankle fracture.
Swelling is another sign of injury. If the swelling comes on gradually and is mild, the injury is likely a sprain or less severe. More immediate and significant swelling could indicate a bone injury and possible fracture. A fracture simply means any type of break in a bone. With a significant injury and displacement of the fracture surgery may be required to properly clean and set the bone.
When severe fractures occur, blistering of the skin is not uncommon. Blisters emanate from excessive swelling in the soft tissues following a severe fracture. Immediate medical attention is required in these circumstances for evaluation. Once severe swelling or blistering sets in, this can take a week or more until the initial swelling resolves. In many cases these changes can delay definitive treatment of the ankle.
As time passes ecchymosis (bruising) may occur. This can be extensive; however, it does not necessarily mean the ankle is fractured. More severe ankle sprains often present with significant ecchymosis over the region of injury. These scenarios are best evaluated by an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist when not improving.
For more information or a personal evaluation, please visit our website. Appointments can be made with Dr. Adam G. Miller by calling (513)-354-3700 or booking online here. If you are not following Dr. Adam G. Miller on social media, you can do so on Facebook or Twitter for: updates and comments on cutting edge treatments, discussion of various injuries, and sport/athlete issues.