Ankle injuries are common, and because of the intricacies of the joint, it’s not always possible to diagnose the severity on your own. Seeking orthopedic services is the only true way to know if you have a fracture or if the area is just strained. However, the guide below offers general differences.

Your Guide to Broken vs. Sprained Ankles


Ankle sprains occur when your ankle joint twists, rolls, or turns awkwardly. The tendons that provide support and help mobility can then be stretched or slightly torn, and the symptoms of the injury can vary in severity. Pain is the most common, and the area may be tender when touched. Swelling is also another telltale sign, and because of it, you may have a restricted range of motion.

orthopedicLuckily, once diagnosed by an orthopedic doctor, a sprained ankle can be easily treated. First, they’ll take an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to ensure there aren’t any fractures. Then, R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress, elevate) is usually advised for home care. You can use over-the-counter medication to help with pain relief and to reduce swelling. If you’re dealing with more intense pain, the orthopedic doctor may provide a support boot or sleeve.


Ankle breaks impact the bones rather than the tendons. Fractures of every size qualify and often occur when the ankle is rolled to the side or is impacted by extreme force. Many of the symptoms are the same as an ankle sprain—pain, swelling, and sensitivity—though there are other unique ones, such as pain when placing weight on the ankle, numbness, paling skin, and not being able to move your toes.

If you experience any of these, stay off of the ankle and see an orthopedic doctor. They’ll perform diagnostic services to locate the fracture and create a recovery plan. This process will usually take anywhere from 4-8 weeks and involves keeping the ankle joint immobile in a boot. Stress fractures may require surgery and rehab before you can regain your full range of motion.


The sooner you seek orthopedic care for an ankle injury, the more you’ll minimize the effects. Since 1953, Santiam Hospital has offered comprehensive health care services to residents of the Mid-Willamette Valley area in Oregon. They provide a variety of care at their surgery center, women’s health clinic, and emergency room and will work with you to create an effective treatment and recovery plan. Call (503) 769-2175 to reach their directory or visit their website to learn more about their hospital. For news and updates, connect on Facebook.