Broken and Severe Ankle Sprain Treatment

Breaks & Fractures

Sep 16, 2021


If you’ve recently suffered from an ankle injury, you may be wondering about the best severe ankle sprain treatment. The first step in any treatment plan is diagnosing the injury. Since the symptoms of a sprained vs. broken ankle are a lot alike, you’ll want to see your medical provider. They’ll be able to order any necessary imaging and tell you exactly what you’re dealing with.

To treat a sprained ankle, use the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) approach for at least the first couple of days. Depending on the severity of your sprained ankle, your doctor may suggest using an ankle brace and/or crutches to help stabilize your ankle.

Wondering how to tell a broken ankle from a sprained one? Want to know how to treat both? Complete Care explains how to treat broken and severe ankle sprains and advises on when to seek medical treatment.

How do I know if I sprained my ankle?

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments of your ankle are overstretched usually through a sudden twist of your foot. In more severe ankle sprains, you may even suffer from a ligament tear.

Common symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Popping sensation
  • Additional pain when pressure is applied

What are the signs of a broken ankle?

A quarter of the bones in your body are found in your foot, which makes it easy to understand why they are one of the most commonly broken bones. Both the metatarsal bones in your foot and the three bones that make up your ankle (tibia, fibula, and talus) are susceptible to injury from overuse, impact, and even a slight twist. The severity of a broken ankle can range from a hairline fracture to a more severe displaced fracture.

Here are some common signs of a broken bone:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Trouble bearing weight on your foot
  • Tenderness
  • Immediate sharp pain
  • Visible deformity
  • Protruding bones

How to tell the difference between a sprained vs. broken ankle

The symptoms of a broken foot vs sprained ankle can be similar, making it hard to tell which one you’re dealing with. One way to tell is that an ankle break will have immediate pain whereas the pain with an ankle sprain can progress over time. 

Another differentiating factor is the location of the pain. If it’s isolated to a soft part of your ankle, you’re likely dealing with a sprain whereas pain directly over a bone could be indicative of a break. 

Even if you think you know which type of injury you have, you should still call your doctor. Despite being similar in symptoms, treatments for a sprained vs. broken ankle are vastly different.

Treating broken and severe ankle sprains

Before starting any treatment protocols, take a trip to your doctor’s office or if it’s a severe injury, to a 24-hour ER. You don’t want to risk a misdiagnosed ankle sprain and end up with reinjury or a long-term injury.

Treatment for a broken ankle

Treatment for a broken ankle will depend on the severity of the break. For a less severe fracture, your treatment plan will most likely include R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and a protective boot or cast.

More severe fractures, including displaced fractures, may require pins inserted through the skin to realign the ends of your bones. If there is a fear of your ankle bones misaligning during the healing process, your doctor might recommend surgery. In either of these cases, you’ll likely need some sort of physical therapy to rebuild the muscles around your ankle once it’s healed.

Avoid walking on a broken foot too soon, especially if you don’t have a protective boot. Just because you can put weight on it doesn’t mean you should. If you’re ever in doubt, never hesitate to consult with your medical provider.

Treatment for a sprained ankle

What is the fastest way to heal a high ankle sprain? Most mild ankle sprains can be treated at home without surgery. To quickly reduce swelling, use the rest, ice, compression, and elevate (R.I.C.E.) approach coupled with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to manage any pain.

  • Rest: Avoid walking on or putting any impact on your ankle.
  • Ice: Keep the swelling down by icing your ankle for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times daily. Avoid applying ice directly to your skin.
  • Compression: Immobilize and support your ankle with bandages or ACE wraps.
  • Elevate: During the first 24 hours, prop your foot up above the level of your heart whenever possible to decrease swelling and help the fluid drain away from the injured area.

For a moderate, grade 2 ankle sprain treatment, you may need to use an ankle brace or brace for support. If you end up with a complete ligament tear, you’ll likely be in a short leg cast or brace for a couple of weeks. This may leave you questioning, “how long after a sprain can I walk?” This will depend on the severity of your injury. To allow for full healing, you’ll generally need to avoid any impact for four-to-six weeks

Always consult with your medical care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Broken or sprained ankle? Don’t wait to head to a Complete Care emergency room!

Here at Complete Care, our 24-hour emergency centers offer care for broken and severe ankle sprain treatment. Thanks to our onsite imaging and efficient staff, we will have you back on your feet in no time without the wait of a traditional hospital.

Whether you have an emergency or just a simple health question, we will take complete care of you. Head into one of our ER locations for any of your emergency needs.

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