Podiatrist in San Leandro, CA
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By Dr. Michael Stein
November 12, 2014
Category: Ankles
Tags: Broken Ankle   severe sprain  

This upcoming Monday, Nov. 17, is National Take a Hike Day. If you have the time, it’s a good excuse to get outside, go exploring, and take in some of the beautiful sights—urban and natural—the Bay Area has to offer. If you’ve suffered a serious ankle injury, though, it might be your pain that you’d like to go take a hike! You might also wonder what kind of injury you have—specifically, whether it’s a broken ankle or a severe sprain.

The difference between a severe sprain and a broken ankle is simple—sprains involve damage to the ligaments that hold bones together, while a broken ankle is a fracture or break in the bone itself. However, it may not always be obvious from the symptoms, as the two can superficially mimic one another. A severe sprain may also be masking a fracture if both occur at the same time. In either case, you can expect pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty bearing weight on the joint, and in either case you should get off your feet immediately and follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) protocol for acute care.

Because of the similarity in symptoms, it’s in your best interest to get a painful ankle injury checked by an expert right away. There are a few minor differences, though, that can help you make an on-the-spot assessment. While this is no replacement for a diagnosis from a trained medical professional, it can help guide your initial response.

More than fractures, sprains tend to result in stiffness in the joint. That’s because the ligaments that hold bones together also allow them to move through the normal range of the joint; torn or swollen ligaments will often reduce range of motion (or at least make it more difficult or painful). Broken ankles, by contrast, are generally more tender to the touch. Also, if the joint looks deformed, or like anything is out of place, it’s probably broken.

You don’t want to mess around with a severe ankle injury—ignoring the pain or failing to take the right treatment steps necessary can lead to chronic pain and arthritis that can last for years. If you suffer an injury, call the experts at Foot Doctor of the East Bay for a full examination and treatment plan. We have three Bay Area offices to serve you; reach us at (510) 483-3390.

Image by macblack on pixabay.com

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