The ankle region is susceptible to two different types of injuries: sprained ankle vs broken ankle and both of the injuries are different from each other.
When the ligaments holding the bones in the ankle joint together are stretched or torn, a sprained ankle results. An unnatural twisting or turning of the ankle may cause this to occur. Pain, bruising, swelling, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the injured ankle are all signs of sprained ankles.
A fracture in one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint results in a broken ankle, on the other hand. A fall, direct blow, or another injury to the ankle may cause this. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, deformity, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected ankle.
Types of Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprain, grade 1: The ligaments have been stretched but not torn in this mild ankle sprain. Mild discomfort, stiffness, swelling, and an unstable or weak feeling in the ankle are possible symptoms.
Ankle sprain, grade 2: The ligaments have been partially torn, causing a moderate ankle sprain. The affected ankle may experience more intense pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty supporting weight.
Ankle sprain, grade 3: Complete rupture or torn ligaments characterize this severe ankle sprain. Severe pain, swelling, bruising, and the inability to bear weight on the injured ankle are possible symptoms. The ankle may occasionally appear to be malformed or dislocated.
The severity of the injury determines the course of treatment for ankle sprains.
Grade 1 Ankle Sprain: The best course of action for minor sprains is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). This entails refraining from weight-bearing activities for a couple of days, using ice to lessen pain and swelling, encircling the ankle in a compression bandage, and elevating the ankle to lessen swelling. It may also be advised to take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Grade 2 Ankle Sprain: Immobilization with a brace or a walking boot may be used as a treatment for moderate sprains. To increase the ankle’s range of motion, strength, and flexibility, physical therapy exercises may be suggested. Crutches might be required in some circumstances to prevent putting weight on the hurt ankle.
Grade 3 Ankle Sprain: If the ligament is completely torn, surgery may be necessary to repair it. Treatment for severe sprains may include immobilization with a cast or a walking boot for several weeks. Exercises from physical therapy may also be advised to help the ankle regain its strength, mobility, and stability.
Types of Ankle fractures or Broken Ankle
Ankle fractures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on where and how severely they are broken. The following are a few of the most typical ankle fractures:
An outside ankle fracture known as a lateral malleolus fracture involves the fibula bone, a long bone that ends around the inner side of the ankle.
An inside ankle fracture known as a medial malleolus fracture involves the tibia bone or the large shin bone as it ends around the ankle joint.
The lateral and medial malleoli are both fractured in a bimalleolar fracture, which may need surgical repair.
A fracture that affects the posterior malleolus, a bony prominence on the back of the ankle, as well as the lateral and medial malleoli is called the trimalleolar fracture.
Maisonneuve Fracture: This type of fracture involves the proximal fibula and may also involve a tear of the distal tibiofibular syndesmosis, which is a ligament that connects the tibia and fibula bones.
Fracture Dislocation: This type of injury involves both a broken bone and a dislocation of the ankle joint.
Treatment for Ankle fractures
The severity of the fracture, the patient’s age, general health, and the presence of any additional wounds or illnesses all affect how the various types of ankle fractures are treated. Here are some typical medical options:
- The standard treatment for minor fractures and ankle sprains is RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting the ankle, using ice to reduce swelling, applying compression to lessen pain and inflammation, and elevating the ankle above the level of the heart are all components of RICE therapy.
- Immobilization: In some circumstances, an ankle cast or brace may be required to keep the ankle immobile and encourage healing. Usually applied to stable fractures that don’t need surgery.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to realign and stabilize the bones if the ankle fracture is severe or unstable. To keep the bones in place while they heal, the surgeon may use pins, plates, screws, or other tools.
- Rehabilitation: To increase the ankle’s range of motion, strength, and stability after the fracture has healed, rehabilitation exercises may be required. This could entail home exercises or physical therapy.
To Summarize here is a table for you to understand the major differences between an ankle sprain vs a broken ankle.
Here’s a table comparing ankle sprains and broken ankles:
|Ankle Sprain||Broken Ankle|
|Definition||Injury to the ligaments in the ankle||One or more bones in the ankle are broken|
|Causes||Sudden twisting or turning of the ankle||Sudden impact, fall, or repetitive stress on the ankle over time|
|Symptoms||Pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty bearing weight||Physical exam, X-rays, MRI, or CT scan if needed.|
|Diagnosis||Physical exam, X-rays, MRI or CT scan if needed.||Physical exam, X-rays, MRI or CT scan if needed.|
|Treatment||RICE therapy, immobilization, physical therapy||Immobilization, surgery, physical therapy|
|Recovery Time||Mild sprains can heal in a few days to a week, while more severe sprains can take several weeks||Can take several weeks to several months depending on the severity of the fracture and the type of treatment|
|Complications||Chronic ankle instability, reinjury||Arthritis, decreased range of motion, chronic pain|
It’s important to note that ankle sprains and broken ankles can have similar symptoms, so it’s always best to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Q: How long does it take to recover from an ankle sprain or broken ankle?
The length of recovery depends on how serious the injury was. While more serious sprains and broken ankles can take weeks or months to recover fully, mild ankle sprains may take a few days to a week to heal.
Q: How can I prevent ankle sprains and broken ankles?
Wearing appropriate footwear, avoiding uneven surfaces, warming up before physical activity, and strengthening the muscles and ligaments in the ankle through exercises and stretching are all important ways to prevent ankle sprains and broken ankles.
Q: How are ankle sprains and broken ankles diagnosed?
A physical examination, X-rays, and other imaging tests, like an MRI or CT scan, can be used to diagnose both ankle sprains and broken ankles.
Hi, I am Parth Chowtia, an MSK/Sports Physiotherapist with a degree in Sports Medicine from Leeds Beckett University, UK. I have five years of experience working with top brands and like to share guides on preventing and managing injuries resulting from sports and exercise participation at all ages and levels of ability.