How Do I Know If I Broke My Ankle?

Did you recently twist your ankle while falling? Or maybe step in a hole during a softball game? Or miss a step coming down the stairs?

If you are unable to walk after a recent ankle injury, then you may have an ankle fracture.


Do I have an ankle fracture or an ankle sprain? How can I tell if I broke my ankle?

Immediately after an ankle injury, it can be difficult to tell if you have a sprain or fracture. Both injuries can cause swelling and the inability to walk. Obtaining a radiograph is the best way to identify if you have broken your ankle. A bad ankle sprain can also cause swelling and inability to walk, and a simple x-ray will help determine if you have a broken ankle (fracture) or an ankle sprain.


The orthopedic surgeons at Southwest Orthopedic Group can take an x-ray in office and determine if you have an ankle fracture.


What bones are broken in an ankle fracture?

The ankle is made up of the distal tibia (shin bone) and the fibula (outside ankle bone). These make the roof and the walls of the ankle joint. The talus bone makes up the floor of the ankle joint.

The ankle has three parts: the medial malleolus (inside), posterior malleolus (back), and lateral malleolus or fibula (outside).

An ankle fracture can occur in any, or all, of these bones.


Are ankle fractures/breaks common?

Ankle fractures are one of the most common fractures in the lower extremities. They can occur from childhood to the elder years.


Can I walk after an ankle fracture?

Some patients with an ankle fracture can walk, so this is not a good test to determine whether or not you have broken your ankle.


What are symptoms of an ankle fracture?


What will ankle x-rays show?

Radiographs will show what bones, if any, are broken. They will also show if the fractures are ‘displaced,’ meaning separated, and by how much. X-rays will also show the alignment of the ankle. If the alignment is off, that may suggest ligament damage as well.


The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has more information about ankle fractures at FootCareMD.


For more questions or to set up an evaluation, contact Dr. Stautberg’s office at 281-977-4870.

Eugene Stautberg, MD

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