When you injure your ankle, it may be hard to tell whether you have sprained it or fractured it. A sprain is a stretched ligament and a fracture is a crack or break in the bone. If you hurt your ankle. the best place to start is by using the RICE method—REST your ankle, put an ICE pack on it, use COMPRESSION, such as an Ace wrap, and ELEVATE it. After a few days if you still have pain or difficulty putting weight on your foot, it’s time to see a podiatrist.
At Family Foot and Ankle Specialists, we are experts at diagnosing and treating foot and ankle injuries. We use our clinical knowledge and X-rays to help determine whether you’ve fractured a bone or torn a ligament and whether the injury requires surgery.
Ankle Sprain Treatment
Both sprains and fractures will appear black and blue around the ankle bone and be difficult to walk on. Usually, if you cannot put any weight at all on it, then it may be fractured. If the ankle is sprained then the treatment plan is to RICE, as described above and consider the aid of a Cam Walker. A cam walker looks like a ski boot that will immobilize your ankle and help with the healing. Also, your doctor may decide to wrap the foot and ankle in a specialized way to promote better healing and get you back to your daily activity a lot faster.
Ankle Fracture Treatment
If it is an ankle sprain then you may need a cast and will usually heal in 4-6 weeks. If the ankle is fractured and needs surgical intervention then the time will be longer. Being treated earlier into the fracture can decrease ypur healing time so be sure to see your doctor right away.
Don’t Push Yourself
Please remember that if your ankle hurts, don’t push it! There’s a reason your body is talking to you, so get it looked at by a doctor. Our goal is to keep you active for the long term not just the short term. The worst thing you can do is to try to push through the pain and ignore your body’s communication, as that may lead to long-term ankle joint disability and arthritis. It’s not uncommon for an ankle sprain to be painful for many months after an injury, and swelling may last for four months to a year.