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How to Tell the Difference Between a Sprained Ankle and a Broken Ankle

If you have an ankle injury, your foot may be bruised, swollen, and unable to bear weight—and, naturally, you’re in such severe pain, you’re convinced that you’ve broken your ankle.

This is a common misconception, since many sprained ankle and fracture symptoms overlap. However, as you can imagine, there’s a big difference between a sprained ankle and a broken ankle—and, to get the best treatment, it’s important to know which one you have.

A few surefire signs of a fractured ankle include:

  • Deformation.If the bones of your foot are dislocated or bulging after an injury, you most likely have a fracture. However, some hairline fractures can appear normal to the naked eye and can only be confirmed with an X-ray.
     
  • Bone misalignment. If the trauma to your foot was severe, the bones might shift underneath, or even break through, the skin. Some patients may see a bump on the inner ankle bone, indicating that the joint has snapped as a result of overextension. 
     
  • Nerve damage. You might wonder why a doctor would perform a pressure test on the bottom of your foot or ask you to wiggle your toes if you have an ankle injury. This is because fractures can cause pieces of broken bone to become dislodged and sever nerves in the foot, in some cases leading to pain, numbness, or tingling. 
     
  • Skin changes. Bone fragments can also sever blood vessels and restrict blood flow to the foot, causing it to appear pale or blue-tinged and become cold to the touch.

At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, we pride ourselves on giving our patients compassionate and comprehensive care. Our Philadelphia area podiatrists will take care of your feet using a full-body approach, including regular treatments, diet and exercise tips, and emergency care for all of your foot and ankle ailments. 

With two convenient locations, we make it easy for our patients to get the help they need. Call us today for a consultation in Media at 610-565-3668, or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville. For more information about caring for your feet, click the link on this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.