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Is It Sprained or Is It Broken?

Less than six minutes into the 2017-2018 NBA season opener, Kyrie Irving tossed an alley-oop to Gordon Hayward, who got tangled in the air with Lebron James as James contested the pass. As Hayward came back down, his left foot hit first and contorted beneath him — with a snap that could be heard across the stadium and on the broadcast.

Traumatic injuries like fractures and sprains are more common than you might think, according to Dr. Brian Powell, Foot and Ankle Surgeon at Ogden Clinic’s Professional Center South. Whether you’re a high level athlete, a weekend warrior, or just an average Joe, injuries can happen in a moment’s notice, and medical attention should be sought following any traumatic injury.

But is it sprained or is it broken? We discuss the differences between a sprain and a fracture in today’s Q&A with Dr. Powell.

Q: Who is most likely to experience ankle pain?

A: It is rare for children under the age of 15 to experience significant ankle pain. Beyond the age of 15, however, ankle pain does not discriminate. Regardless of ethnicity or gender, most people will experience ankle pain at one point or another in their lifetime.

Q: What is the most common cause of ankle pain?

A: The single most common cause of ankle pain is an ankle sprain. An ankle sprain is the result of tearing or otherwise injuring the ligaments that connect the foot to the bones of your leg. Ankle sprains are caused by turning or twisting the ankle in an awkward, unintended way. If you ever sprain your ankle, you’ll usually know it right away. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling

If you believe you’ve suffered an ankle sprain, I recommend seeing a doctor. It’s important to determine the severity of the sprain and establish a proper course of treatment as quickly as possible in order to not further damage the ligaments. Above all, be sure to use the R.I.C.E. protocol:

  • R – Rest
  • I – Ice
  • C – Compression
  • E – Elevation

Q: How can I tell the difference between an ankle sprain and an ankle fracture?

A: Try to recall if you heard a cracking sound while suffering the injury, as that may be indicative of having suffered a fracture. Second, if your ankle appears crooked in addition to being swollen, or if your symptoms do not reduce after 24-48 hours of R.I.C.E. therapy, and if you’re still unable to walk on the foot, then it is likely that you have suffered a fracture. If this is the case, then please see a physician as quickly as possible.

***

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Dr. Brian Powell practices at Ogden Clinic’s Professional Center South location in Ogden, Utah. To schedule an appointment, please click here or call (801) 475-3300.

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