Sprained Ankle Vs. Broken Ankle: Diagnose With 6 Differences

When your ankle gets twisted or you fall suddenly, you might not know if it's broken or just sprained. Your ankle has lots of parts like bones, ligaments, and tendons. It could be a sprain or a break if something happens to it.

It's crucial to understand the difference between a sprained and broken ankle. Let's discuss sprained ankle vs broken ankle, what makes these injuries different, and what you should do for each.

What is a Sprained Ankle?

Ankle sprains result from a rip or tear in the muscular tissue bands known as ligaments that keep your ankle bones together. Your ankle remains stable thanks to these ligaments.

Depending on how badly the ligaments are injured, sprains can range in severity, and symptoms could be: 

  • Tender to touch
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain, especially when you put weight on it
  • You can't move your ankle much

What is a Broken Ankle?

Broken ankles, also called fractured ankles, are caused by injury or cracking of one or more ankle joint bones.

The signs and symptoms of a broken ankle are: 

  • It is excruciating, especially when you move
  • You might see the bone out of place
  • Swelling and bruising
  • You can't put any weight on your foot
  • If the skin got broken, you might have an open wound

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Broken and Sprained Ankle?

It can be hard to know if your ankles got sprained or broken because they have similar symptoms. Here's how to tell them apart:

1- Pain Level and Type

The pain with a sprain might not be too bad and worsen over time. It's often a dull or throbbing ache.

With a break, the pain is usually intense right from the start. You might feel a sharp pain, and it's hard to ignore. Putting any weight on it can make it hurt even more.

2- Swelling and Bruising

Swelling and bruising with a sprained ankle may occur over time, possibly not immediately. Your ankle might look swollen and have some purple or blue spots.

Swelling and bruising with a break can happen quickly, sometimes immediately after the injury. It might be more severe and noticeable compared to a sprain.

Learn how to stop limping walk after a broken ankle

3- What You See

If sprained, your ankle might look puffy or swollen, but it usually keeps its standard shape. It won't look bent or crooked.

Sometimes, the bone might move out of place, making your ankle look odd or bent in a way it shouldn't be. It indicates a break.

4- Ability to Move and Put Weight

Though it's painful, you can still move your ankle a bit with a sprain. You might be able to hobble around on it, but it's uncomfortable.

If broken, you will find it hard or impossible to move your ankle without sharp pain. Putting any weight on it could be excruciating.

Learn how to walk with a broken ankle

5- Sounds

Sometimes, when you sprain your ankle, you might hear a little pop or snap when the injury happens. It's only sometimes the case, but it can happen.

A break might make a louder cracking sound when it occurs. It could be a clear sign that something's broken.

6- Long-Term Recovery

Sprains usually heal independently with time, though it might take a while. You may need to rest, ice, elevate, and use a brace to help it get better.

Broken ankles might need more serious treatment like a cast, sometimes even surgery. Recovery can take longer and might need more help from doctors.

A Final Word!

Seeing a doctor is always the best option for a correct diagnosis and course of treatment!

Your doctor may recommend you any mobility aid to help ease the pain. Check out MoovKart’s collection of ankle braces for a speedy recovery. 

People Also Ask!

When I hurt my ankle, what should I do right away?

After injuring your ankle, remember R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Take the weight off, apply ice, wrap it gently, and elevate it to reduce swelling.

Can I walk with a sprained ankle?

Even though it can hurt, you can walk on a sprained ankle. To speed up the healing process, taking it easy and avoiding placing too much weight on it is essential.

How long does it take for a sprained or broken ankle to heal?

Healing time for a sprained or broken ankle varies but usually takes weeks to months. Sprains heal quicker, while breaks may need more time, especially if surgery is required.

When should I visit a physician for a broken ankle?

See a doctor if you can't put weight on your ankle, have severe pain, or notice swelling or deformity.