You’re walking along your favorite walking trail one day and take an unintentionally careless step up onto a stone stairway. You slip and feel your ankle both twist and impact with the ground. It hurts a lot, and you think you might have broken your foot but then you remember that severe ankle sprains are known to feel worse than actually breaking your foot. How do you know, at that moment, if your foot is broken or if it’s sprained?
The first step when you know you’ve hurt your ankle is to R.E.S.T. until you’re able to seek medical attention. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Stay off the affected foot, ice it for 20 minutes at a time, use a compression sleeve if it’s not too painful, and elevate the affected foot to reduce swelling.
When you get to see a medical professional about your hurt ankle, describe in great detail how it happened. What happened right before you fell? What kind of material did you fall onto? What type of shoes were you wearing? All of this information can be helpful to the doctor in determining if your ankle is broken or if it is sprained.
Depending on when and how you have fallen, the development of bruising and swelling can tell you a lot about your injury. Did the bruise come on really quickly? This can possibly signal a break, but it could also simply mean that you hit your foot harder than you thought. Look at your foot - is it misshapen at all? It can be hard to tell if the swelling has come on fast, but provides clues for us.
Though it can prove difficult to tell at the moment if your foot is broken or sprained, one of the most tell-tale symptoms of a break is numbness. If you feel numbness in part of or in your entire foot, chances are higher that you’ve experienced a fracture. In either case, don’t wait to seek medical attention! During your healing process, it’s important to follow up with your podiatrist for long-term care and pain management. Dr. Alan J. Discont, Dr. Gregory M. Krahn, and Dr. Boyd Andrews at Family Foot & Ankle Care can help you prevent or reduce the impact of a break or sprain on the long-term health of your feet and ankles! Call us today at (408) 732-0033 to schedule your next appointment at our office in Chandler, Arizona.