Ankle fractures are surprisingly common — in fact, they’re the most common type of lower extremity fracture and account for up to 10% of all fractures in adults. Although most people think of fractures as severe breaks, some fractures are less severe, causing symptoms that can sometimes be mistaken for other injuries, like sprains.
At Texas Orthopaedic Associates, our team offers advanced fracture care for patients in Dallas, Plano, Keller, Weatherford, and Fort Worth, Texas, including state-of-the-art treatment for ankle fractures. Prompt treatment is the key to a quick recovery.
Here are five ankle fracture symptoms our team wants you to know about.
1. Inability to bear weight
Your ankles do more than connect your legs to your feet. They’re responsible for bearing your body weight all day long. If your ankle is broken, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to bear weight on the joint. In addition to pain, your ankle might feel like it’s going to give way. In some instances, even the slightest pressure on your foot or heel can cause significant pain in your ankle.
On the other hand, a very tiny, hairline fracture may cause significantly less discomfort. These are the fractures that are more likely to be mistaken for sprains. Delaying care risks a larger break and more serious complications to your joint and the nerves and tissues surrounding it.
2. Severe swelling
Swelling is another symptom common to both fractures and breaks. With a fracture, though, the swelling tends to last longer, and applying ice won’t make it go away. If you have ankle swelling that doesn’t resolve or if it’s accompanied by any of the other symptoms listed here, there’s a good chance your ankle is broken, not sprained.
3. Deformity of the joint
Like other fractures, ankle fractures can happen in different ways. Sometimes, the ends of the bones stay “lined up,” so your joint looks the same even though the bone is broken. Other times, the bones slide out of alignment, causing the joint to appear oddly bent or deformed. This is a clear sign of an ankle fracture or dislocation.
4. Intense or throbbing pain
An ankle sprain tends to cause discomfort when you bend or rotate your ankle or try to place weight on your foot. A fracture often causes pain even when the ankle is at rest. Elevating the ankle may help, but with a more serious fracture, even the act of raising your leg to elevate your foot can cause throbbing or shooting pain.
5. Significant tenderness
Many sprains cause discomfort when you move your ankle or put weight on it. But if your ankle is sore or tender to the touch, that’s a sign that it could be fractured. Often, tenderness is accompanied by bruising that can spread into the tissues surrounding your ankle joint.
Don’t ignore ankle pain
Because they can cause similar symptoms, it’s very easy to mistake an ankle sprain for an ankle fracture. If you have any of the five signs listed here, having a medical evaluation ensures you get the right care so you can feel better faster and avoid more serious complications.
To learn more about ankle fractures or to have your ankle symptoms diagnosed, book an appointment online or over the phone at Texas Orthopaedic Associates today.