Sprained ankle vs broken ankle

Sprained ankle vs broken ankle

Sprained ankle vs broken ankle

The ankle joint, also known as the talocrural joint, is a complex hinge joint that connects the bones of your lower leg with those from just above it, including the fibula and tibia. It consists of two articulations that allow for movement in all directions except rotation. It connects the tibia and fibula with the talus of the foot.

In the ankle joint, the fibula and tibia form a notch in which the body of the talus fits. It is often described as a Tenon and mortise joint, where the fibula and tibia act as mortise and the talus acts as a Tenon.

The ankle joint is a powerful motion-sure, a shock absorber that allows some degree of pronation and supination with subtalar or mid tarsal joints. It also acts as an important stabilizer during our gait cycle by allowing our heel to strike the ground.

Ankle injuries are severe and can have significant consequences if not treated correctly. A broken ankle is often confused with a sprained one or vice versa. The ankle is a complicated structure whose injury can be challenging to diagnose and painful to deal with. Therefore, it must not be left untreated, as it can lead to further pain, damage to the joint, and compromised plus dysfunctional mobility!

Readout our complete article to clear your misconceptions regarding sprained ankle vs. broken ankle, with their treatments.


Sprain of any joint is defined as torn ligaments of that particular joint, which may be due to overextension of the joint.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common ankle discomforts. They can be caused by twisting or overstretching your foot, which causes physical stress on its ligaments and gets torn. Like muscles and tendons that hold the joint together, structures around that are also affected.

Sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries in athletes. They can be caused by twisting or extending your foot beyond its natural range, which tears apart ligaments and causes pain around this area!


A broken ankle is also called a Fractured ankle. It is a crack in one or more of the bones supporting the ankle joint, such that the bone breaks apart, causing ankle dislocation.

A broken ankle is most commonly caused by stress, twists, or rolls that exceed the strength limit according to its threshold potential. Ankle sprains also often go along with fractured ankles, so make sure that sprains or breaks are taken care of quickly before things get worse.

Know that an ankle fracture will completely shatter your ability to walk, whereas, in ankle sprains, you can barely but still walk.


If you’re suffering from an ankle injury, it is necessary to determine whether it is just a minor sprain or a complete break to avoid further complications in the future.

Now, let’s look at the signs and symptoms of ankle sprains and ankle breaks.

Symptoms of Ankle Sprains:

The following observations can identify ankle sprains:

  1. Bruising
  2. Severe swelling
  3. Unbearable pain
  4. Discoloration of the affected area
  5. Feeling of numbness near the affected area
  6. Immobility of the joint
  7. Inability to put weight or force on the joint
  8. Tenderness
  9. Stiffness
  10. Imbalanced foot

Symptoms of Broken Ankle:

The following symptoms can diagnose a broken ankle:

  1. Inability to move the toes
  2. Pale appearance of the foot
  3. Excessive swelling and bruising
  4. Tenderness
  5. Feeling of a stiffed joint
  6. Unbearable pain
  7. Numbness of the toes
  8. Deformities of the affected bones around the ankle
  9. Immobility of the joint
  10. Feeling of a sprain


If you think that your ankle might be sprained, it’s essential to get medical assistance as soon as possible. Your orthopedic specialist will determine the severity and best course of treatment for a swollen joint to help treat any pain or discomfort!

Following are some essential remedies to treat an ankle sprain:

  1. Wearing a brace or an ankle support band 
  2. Use of a crutch so that there will be low weight input on the joint
  3. Reconstructive surgery of torn ligaments and tendons in rare cases
  4. Physiotherapy for strength regain
  5. Resting your joint
  6. Use a compressive bandage to help stop swelling
  7. Icing can cause relief of swelling and pain
  8. Elevated placement of the foot
  9. Use of analgesia for pain relief
  10. Dressings and aced-wraps will immobilize and support your sprained ankle


The symptoms of an ankle break are very similar to those caused by a sprain, but the course of treatment will vary based on the severity of the injury. Your orthopedic specialist should always get an official diagnosis of your ankle as soon as possible because many other factors confuse treatment diagnosis, affecting our ability to treat breaks or sprains properly.

Following are some essential remedies to treat a broken ankle:

  1. Rest is the key to the treatment
  2. Complete bed rest for weeks
  3. Wrapping the joint in case of less severe breaks
  4. Casting in case of more severe breaks
  5. Use of crutches while walking
  6. Elevated placement of the foot while sitting or lying down
  7. Proper physiotherapy
  8. Arthroscopic surgery to remove fragments of broken bone from the joint area in rare cases
  9. Use of braces to support the bone
  10. Traction is also a less common treatment option


Asking yourself the following questions will help you diagnose whether you are suffering from a sprained ankle or a broken one:

    • Does the pain get worse over time? If yes, you are suffering from a sprained ankle as it gets wilder over time, but you might immediately suffer from the pain if you have a broken ankle. Know that an Ankle sprain gets worst after two to three weeks if left untreated.
    • Did the injury result from a direct blow on the bone, not by twisting? If yes, then it is probably a broken ankle since overextension leads to torn ligaments, which causes ankle sprains as in twisting of the foot.
  • Did you hear a cracking sound at the time of injury? If yes, then there’s a higher risk of a broken ankle.
  • Does it hurt more over the affected area around the ankle? If yes, then it is an ankle sprain.
  • Does it hurt more directly over the bone? If yes, then it is a fractured ankle for sure.


After everything, it is necessary to know the degrees and severity of ankle sprains.

There are two types of ankle sprains based on the range of motion.

  • Eversion Ankle Sprain:

An eversion ankle sprain occurs when the foot gets over everted. When the foot is twisted outward, it damages the medial deltoid ligament.

  • Inversion Ankle Sprain:

An inversion ankle sprain occurs when your foot is twisted inward and one of the three important ligaments on the outside of your ankle has been damaged. These ligaments are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL).

Furthermore, there are three types of ankle sprains, based on the severity of the injury and degree of the pain.

  • Grade 1: 

There is a mild degree of pain where the ligament is scarcely stretched or slightly torn.

  • Grade 2:

There is a moderate degree of pain where the ligament is torn, but not entirely.

  • Grade 3:

There is a severe degree of pain where the ligament is torn completely.


The difference between an ankle that has been broken or sprained (Sprained ankle vs broken ankle) can be challenging to tell apart. A fracture is when there’s a crack in the bone. At the same time, a sprain occurs when some fibrous tissue called ligaments are torn from their position around bones during injury, rendering them unable to support against the force applied at certain angles. This could result in inflammation near the site where strain occurs, resulting in severe complications if left untreated.

The prognosis of these injuries depends largely on how severe it was: breaks usually heal faster since they don’t involve movement; however, tears might require surgery as ligaments take time to redevelop.


  • Can you walk on a broken ankle?

An ankle with a less severe fracture allows you to walk barely. However, in a severe fracture, you won’t be able to move your foot.

  • What is ankle tingling?

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition in which the tibial nerve becomes compressed. The most common symptoms are numbness or weakness at the ankle joint. Since the tibial nerve allows the parts of the foot to be moved, its damage can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage, mainly in the bottom of the foot.

  • How to tell someone if the ankle is broken?

To differentiate between a sprained or a broken ankle, you must know their signs and symptoms. Readout our complete article to get the full details of a fractured ankle.

  • Can you break your ankle by rolling it?

When you roll your ankle, the knobby bumps at the end of each tibia and fibula may break or fracture. A broken leg is an injury to one’s bone that could happen from several things, such as falling while walking on uneven ground or being run over by a car directly over the bone.

  • How to heal a sprained ankle fast?

To heal a sprained ankle fast, follow all the essential remedies mentioned above in the article to treat your sprained ankle.