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Health Care

Sprain or Something More? - Deciphering Ankle Injuries

August 8, 2018
Sprain or Something More? - Deciphering Ankle Injuries

Written by: Dr. Stephen Lo

As warmer weather settles into Wisconsin, many of us are spending more time in outdoor activities and sports. This means that we can also see more ankle injuries.  One of the most common injuries is a sprain of the ankle.  An ankle sprain is a stretching or tearing injury to the ligaments around the ankle joint.

Another common ankle injury is a fracture in one or both bones in the leg near the ankle.  A fracture is an actual break in the bone.  These can range from very mild fractures with just a tiny crack to more severe fractures with complete breaks in both bones.

Signs of an ankle sprains can include:

  • Swelling around the ankle
  • Bruising around the ankle
  • Pain with movement of the ankle or when walking
  • No pain when pushing on the ankle bones or on the shin

Signs of an ankle fracture include the above plus:

  • Pain when pushing on the ankle bones or shin
  • Severe pain that prevents walking or bearing weight

Ankle sprains and fractures can occur from the same types of injuries, and they can look very similar. It is important to see your medical provider for any moderate or severe ankle injury.


Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, treatment may include:

  • Icing
  • Elevation
  • ACE bandages or splints
  • Crutches
  • Rest from physical activities
  • Physical therapy

Treatment for ankle fractures can include the above plus splinting or casting to allow for protection and proper healing.

Call your doctor if you have persistent swelling that doesn’t improve after two to five days of home treatment or have persistent pain that doesn’t improve after several weeks.