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Ankle and Foot Fractures and Sprains

  • Nov 29 2022

A patient rests on a sofa and props up their foot, which is in a full castFoot and ankle injuries happen to millions of people every year. They’re often the result of accidents, but a foot fracture or ankle sprain can happen even while doing simple activities like going for a walk or getting out of bed in the morning. However, just because these injuries are common doesn’t make them welcome.

Your feet are essential to maintaining a high quality of life. Without pain-free feet and ankles, living an active lifestyle is nearly impossible. That means that diagnosing your injury and getting the treatment you need should be a priority. 

Although it’s always best to get the opinion of a medical professional, sometimes you can rule out injuries yourself (or determine if you have an ankle sprain vs. a fracture) through self-diagnosis. Read on to learn more about the difference between fractures and sprains in your foot or ankle and how to diagnose these two conditions. 

Types of Ankle and Foot Fractures

A fracture is any type of injury with a loss of continuity in a bone. In other words, fractures are injuries that result in a compromised bone. 

In the world of fractures, there are generally two levels of injuries: stable fractures and unstable fractures. In a stable fracture, the bone is broken but remains well-positioned and stable. Most times, stable fractures like a hairline fracture in a foot will heal with a cast or boot. Unstable fractures are where the stability or positioning of the broken bone is compromised. Surgery followed by a cast is usually the only way these types of injuries will heal. 

A man walking down blue stairs in leather shoes badly twists his ankle.Regardless of the severity of an ankle or foot fracture, if you suspect you have one you should always seek professional medical attention. Without it, you risk compromising your healing process.

Ankle and foot fractures aren’t all alike. These injuries are classified based on the location and severity of the break.

Types of ankle fractures can include: 

Foot fractures also come in many varieties, including:

  • Heel bone fracture
  • Metatarsal fracture
  • 5th metatarsal fracture
  • Lisfranc fracture
  • Stress fracture

Types of Ankle and Foot Sprains

A pair of hands clutch a bare foot in pain. As opposed to a fracture, which damages the bone, a sprain occurs when a ligament is damaged. Depending on the severity of the sprain, the healing process could be relatively straightforward or very complex.

Depending on their severity, sprains are classified as either Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3. A Grade 1 sprain involves mild tissue damage, while Grade 2 sprains are more severe and can be incomplete tears. Grade 3 sprains are severe injuries where a ligament is completely torn. 

Grade 1 sprains don’t always need medical attention and can heal independently with some rest. However, sometimes Grade 2 sprains (and always Grade 3 sprains) require immediate medical attention. 

Most foot sprains involve the ankle joint in some capacity. Of the many types of ankle sprains, the most common is an inversion sprain. Also known as a rolled ankle, inversion sprains often happen after someone stretches their foot inwards too far. 

Symptoms of Ankle and Foot Injuries

Self-diagnosing a sprain or fracture of the ankle or foot is often tricky because sprains and strains produce similar symptoms. Therefore, it’s best to seek a medical professional’s advice if you suspect a sprain or fracture. 

Here are some signs of sprains and strains to help you evaluate whether or not to see a doctor:

  • Inability to bear weight
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Mild to severe pain
  • Swelling 
  • Deformity of the ankle

If you have any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional promptly.

Get the Treatment You Need

At South Island Orthopedics, our team of highly skilled orthopedic specialists is ready to provide you with the treatment you need to recover from your sprain or fracture. We understand the intricacies of the musculoskeletal system and can provide the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention measures you need. 

If you suspect that you may have a sprained or fractured foot or ankle, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists!

Posted in: Ankle and Foot