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What is the difference between a sprained ankle and a broken ankle (ankle fracture)?

Foot & ankle specialists

A sprained ankle is when the ligaments in your ankle are torn. A broken ankle or ankle fracture is when one or more of the bones in your ankle break. Severe sprains and fractures have similar symptoms (pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness) and are both caused by twisting or rotating your ankle, tripping or falling, or trauma to your ankle. Sprains heal faster, but it can take up to six weeks for a broken ankle to heal.

Who does it affect?

Anyone, at any age, can sprain their ankle. Sprains are most common in athletes during sporting events but can happen during everyday activities as well.

What are the types of ankle sprains?

There are three types of ankle sprains based on how much ligament damage occurred:

  • Grade 1 (Mild). The ligament fibers stretched slightly or there is a very small tear. Your ankle will have minor swelling and tenderness to the touch.
  • Grade 2 (Moderate). The ligament is torn, but it isn’t a complete tear. Your ankle has swelling over the injury and it hurts to move.
  • Grade 3 (Severe). The ligament is torn completely. Your ankle has significant swelling, the injury is painful and walking is difficult.

What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?

The symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Pain, especially when putting weight on your ankle.
  • Tenderness to the touch.
  • Swelling.
  • Bruising.
  • Difficulty walking.


Source:   Cleveland Clinic

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