Sprained Ankle Vs Broken Ankle | Symptoms & Treatment

sprained ankle vs broken ankle
sprained ankle vs broken ankle

Ankle injuries are common, especially among athletes and people who engage in physical activities. Sprains and fractures are two of the most typical types of ankle injuries. While sprains and fractures can be painful, it’s important to understand their differences. This ensures that you receive the proper treatment. This article will provide an overview of sprained ankle vs broken ankle, including their causes, symptoms, and treatments. Let’s dive in.

Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains are frequently occurring injury that typically happens when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint gets overextended or torn. This type of injury often arises from a sudden twisting or turning motion of the foot, such as when you accidentally misstep on an uneven surface or experience a fall.

Ankle sprains are more common in people who engage in sports or other physical activities, but they can happen to anyone.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

  • Pain and tenderness.
  • Swelling and bruising.
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight.
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion.
  • In severe cases, a popping or tearing sound at the time of the injury.

Treatment for a Sprained Ankle

Use over-the-counter pain medications.

  1. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) immediately after the injury to reduce swelling and pain.
  2. Rehabilitation exercises and physical therapy to restore range of motion, strength, and flexibility.
  3. Use of a brace or crutches to limit weight-bearing on the affected ankle.
  4. Avoid high-impact activities until the ankle is fully healed.

It’s important to note that sprained ankles can vary in severity. While some sprains can heal independently with proper rest and rehabilitation, others may require more intensive treatment, such as immobilization or surgery.

Broken Ankle

A broken ankle is a more serious concern in terms of ankle injuries than a sprained ankle. It happens when one or more of the ankle bones break. Broken ankles can happen due to a variety of causes, including falls, car accidents, and sports injuries. They are more common in people with weak bones due to osteoporosis.

Symptoms of a Broken Ankle

  1. Severe pain that worsens with movement or weight-bearing.
  2. Swelling and bruising.
  3. Tenderness and sensitivity to touch.
  4. Deformities, such as visible bone displacement or protrusion.
  5. Inability to bear weight on the affected ankle.

Treatment for a Broken Ankle

The treatment for a broken ankle varies depending on the injury’s severity. In some cases, the ankle may need to be set back into place and kept still with a cast or brace so that the bones can heal properly.

A surgeon may perform surgery to straighten the bones and secure them with metal screws or plates. Other forms of treatment involve:

  • Taking pain medication
  • Undergoing physical therapy to restore flexibility and strength to the ankle.
  • Use of crutches or a wheelchair to limit weight-bearing on the affected ankle
  • Avoiding high-impact activities until the ankle is fully healed

It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you have a broken ankle. Delaying treatment can lead to complications and prolong the healing process.

Sprained Ankle vs Broken Ankle |

Key Differences

While both can cause pain and discomfort, several key differences exist between a sprained ankle and a broken ankle.


The ankle becomes sprained only when there is an injury to the ligaments. Ligaments are special connective tissue attaching bone to bone.

On the other hand, a broken ankle is a result of a fracture of one or more ankle bones. This can happen from a fall, car accident, or sports injury.


While a sprained ankle can be painful and limit your mobility, it is generally less severe than a broken ankle. Although a sprain may result in swelling, the injured ankle can nevertheless support the weight.

In contrast, a broken ankle will typically cause severe pain that worsens with movement. A person’s ankle joint cannot support the weight.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A sprained ankle gets diagnosed through a physical examination, while a broken ankle may require imaging tests like X-rays or other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.

The main difference in treatment between the two is a broken ankle is usually realigned and immobilized with the help of a cast or braces. This fastens the healing and recovery.

Walking On A Broken Ankle

Walking on a broken ankle can cause further damage to the ankle and delay the healing process. However, whether or not it is safe to walk on a broken ankle depends on the nature of the fracture.

If it is a stable fracture, which means the broken bone is still aligned, a person may be able to walk on the ankle with the help of crutches or a walking boot. However, limiting weight-bearing as much as possible is important to prevent further damage.

If it is a displaced fracture, which means the broken bone is not aligned, a person should not put any weight on the ankle and seek medical attention immediately. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the broken bone.

It is important to note that even if a person can walk on a broken ankle, it does not mean it is safe. Walking on a broken ankle can cause the bones to shift and delay the healing process. That will result in long-term consequences, including arthritis and persistent discomfort.

Therefore, seeking medical attention and following the doctor’s recommendations for weight-bearing and activity levels during the healing process is important.

Wrapping Up

Ankle injuries are common and can range in severity from a simple sprain to a broken ankle. To get the right care quickly, it’s essential to comprehend the differences between these ailments.

Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help speed up healing and prevent long-term complications. If you suspect an ankle injury, seek medical attention immediately to determine the extent of the injury and receive the best course of treatment.

Remember, taking care of your ankle health can help you continue to engage in physical activities and prevent future injuries.



1. How do you tell if your ankle is broken or sprained?

An X-ray or other medical imaging confirms if it’s a fracture or not.

2. Can you still walk on a broken ankle?

Walking on a broken ankle is possible, but it’s not recommended as it can worsen the injury and delay healing.

3. Does a sprained ankle hurt more than a broken ankle?

A broken ankle is more painful than a sprained ankle, but it also depends on the severity of the injury.

4. Can you wiggle your toes with a broken ankle?

It’s possible to wiggle your toes with a broken ankle. But it’s not a reliable indicator of a broken ankle.


Related Posts

How to sit comfortably with a fractured pelvis

Explore Key Signs You Will Be Approved for Disability

Leave a Comment