Sprain or Break??

Updated on November 01, 2012
T.C. asks from Minneapolis, MN
18 answers

So i have never broke a bone or sprained anything before so im not sure what i did. I tripped over the dog last night and rolled my ankle. I hear a cracking sound but not sure what that was. My ankle/foot did NOT swell, and it is not bruised, but it sure does hurt to walk. I am limping everywhere. I plan to go to the dr next week if it is not feeling better, but was wondering a few things:
Is it true your foot would swell if it was broken? I dont think it is broken but im not sure.
are you able to walk normal if you sprain your ankle or is it very painful?
If you just crack a bone does it heal on its own or do you need a boot or a cast put on it?
Im just not sure how serious this could be and i know i wont know untill i get to a dr, but thought id get some opinions. Thanks!!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your stories and advice!! I took a couple ibproferine, and by sat morn it was feeling a bit better. I wraped most of the day and yesterday i could almost walk normal. It still hurts to move from side to side but it is so much better than it was on friday. I think i will wait on the dr for now since it seems to be getting a lot better. Thinking maybe i just pulled some muscles? Not sure but i think it will be ok. Thanks again!!

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answers from Wichita on

I broke a bone in my elbow and the swelling was so minimal, only the doctor could tell.

I rolled my ankle a few months ago, and I went to the walmart and got a little ankle brace, which helped, especially at night, and it felt better after a week. IF you're limping that bad, though, you might want to go to the doctor.

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answers from Richmond on

Take it from someone who's broken/sprained her ankles countless times... sounds like a bad sprain. Wrap it in an ace bandage and even though it's not swollen, keep it elevated and ice it. Stay off of it as much as possible. If it was broken, even a hairline fracture, you'd know it. It would be impossible to put weight on, horribly bruised, and extremely swollen. Sprains are awful too; nothing you can do except give it time to heal. As always, double check with a doctor. I went for xrays once because I was sure I had broken 2 toes (usually I wouldn't have gone, but 4 days later the pain was intolerable)... turns out I had broken 3 toes, 2 of the long bones in my foot, AND refractured my ankle. Um... ouch. Hope it feels better soon!!

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answers from Wichita on

I broke a bone in my elbow and the swelling was so minimal, only the doctor could tell.

I rolled my ankle a few months ago, and I went to the walmart and got a little ankle brace, which helped, especially at night, and it felt better after a week. IF you're limping that bad, though, you might want to go to the doctor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

sounds like a pulled ligament, a spain or break would swell, and despite popular belief it is pretty tough to actually break ur ankle

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answers from Chicago on

Ankles are a tough call - sprains are more common but with all kinds of small bones you never know. Since you said you 'rolled' your ankle, I'd be inclined to think it was a sprain but I'm not a doctor so don't listen to me!

Your best bet would be to get to your primary care physician so he/she can take a look at it and order x-rays to find out what's really going on.

I'm so sorry your ankle is hurting. At this early stage, stay off of it, elevate it, and wrap an ice pack around it. In fact, if you have a bag of frozen peas or corn, use that and an ace bandage to do a compression wrap. If you can, take some over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Aleve, Advil, Motrin, or Bayer.

Good luck - and go see your doctor soon if it doesn't get better.

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answers from Columbus on

I think you should try to get into the doctor's today. If the foot/ankle is sprained, even, and it's painful to walk, you could be doing further damage to it just by walking or standing on it without proper wrapping/support. And if there is a fracture, even a hairline fracture, that is going to be doubly true.

If you can't get to the doctor's, then go to urgent care. You probably need an x-ray to find out exactly what's going on.

In the meantime, alternate cold packs and heat packs (15-20 min per each) for the next 24 hours, and keep it elevated. Take some Tylenol or Motrin (normal dose according to bottle).

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answers from Dover on

I have had sprains, strains, & breaks. It sounds like you might have a minor sprain & they will definitely be tender for a while. My ankle swelled a good bit when I sprained it, but it got HUGE when I broke it several years later. That doesn't mean you don't have a hairline fracture, it's definitely possible. If it's still really painful next week you should go get it checked out.

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answers from State College on

I've sprained my ankle before. Sprains can really vary in how bad they are. Mine was swollen and a little black and blue. It was sore to walk on, but I have know several other girls (from gymnastics) with sprains that could not walk on a sprain hardly and several with broken ankles as well that were not walking. If it is not getting better you may want to try getting in today or at least give them a call for their current recommendations on what to do before you go in. Make sure to rest when possible and also to elevate your ankle above your heart and ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. If you can stand it and the ice isn't helping, making a bucket of very icy water and putting your foot in for 10-15 minutes can help too. If you have a call in to your doctor ask them if you should wrap it at all, which can help with stability and compression to make it more comfortable.

Hope you heal quickly.

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answers from Raleigh on

Probably what you heard was the ligaments and tendons overextending. I have both sprained and broke my foot. It can seem very similar. I know with the break, though, it turned black and blue pretty quickly and the bruise started growing and moving away from the site of the injury over a period of days. I also couldn't walk on it at all- I drug it around behind me for 4 days before seeing a doctor. I just was not getting better. I didn't have to wear a cast- just one of those air cast booties.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Please talk to your doctor as soon as you can. This sort of injury isn't easy to self-diagnose. If anything is broken, even a bit, it needs some sort of immobilization so the bone can be still and have a chance to heal (even broken toes get wrapped). A sprain can do long-lasting damage if it isn't taken care of properly. I'm not trying to scare you, but you don't want any far-reaching damage - you're much too busy for that sort of thing, I'm sure! So please call your doctor's office today and go in right away if you're asked.

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answers from Modesto on

Usually there is some swelling- broken or sprained or strained. Any discoloration? Usually some bruising is apparent. I'd cold pack it, take some advil or whatever you would normally take for minor pain and give it a few days. Fractures can be dangerous becaue bone marrow can become infected. If you dont feel the pain lessening within 3 days, I'd hit the docs office for their pro opinion. They do make a crackling noise when sprained tho, sort of like popping knuckles.... so that doesnt mean you broke it by hearing that sound ;)

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answers from Austin on

Sprain, break... Or torn ligaments?

A couple years ago, I rolled my ankle. I though I sprained it. Then after a week or so, I thought I might have broken one of the little bones... Turns out I ripped the 2 major ligaments that support the joint. Had to have surgery to reattach.

I suggest you get it checked out. If nothing shoes on an xray, you might need a MRI to determine if you tore the ligaments.

And no high heels for a while! ;-)



answers from Des Moines on

Sprains usually swell instantly. Fractures usually don't. Both are painful to walk on, just in different ways. If you're not seeing much improvement after a day or so, it's likely broken. I'd recommend going to urgent care this weekend if you can. If it is broken you could make it worse by continuing to walk on it.

A couple of years ago I tripped and hyperextended my ankle going down stairs and tore a ligament and fractured one of the bones in my foot. I had to wear a boot for a few weeks and "supportive" shoes for 6 months after that. And believe me, I wanted to because it hurt A LOT to walk.


answers from Dallas on

I'm not a doctor, however I did have a friend that broke her ankle and was still able to walk on it, somewhat painful, but she still walked on it. If you did break it the bones would heal on their own the boot or cast keeps your bones in order so that don't move. Without it, then your bones could heal in an abnormal form, like overlap. Since you aren't going to the doctor until next week, I would ice it for 10-15 min at least 4 times a day. I know you said it's not swollen, but it sure wouldn't hurt to do so. I wouldn't walk much on it, and keep it in the same position as much as possible. If you could get some sort of splint, put that one, also keep it elevated as much as possible. Also, take some Ibuprofen that reduces inflammation.
Sure hope it's not broken



answers from Los Angeles on

a me to that wat happen to me my foot was that i did a trick and on the scooter the handel bars hit my stomik and i went up in the air and fell on the floor on the grass but i didn,t sprained or brake it it just hurts and wen i walk it hurts alot on saturday im going to the dr. thanks!!!!



answers from Minneapolis on

When I broke a bone in my ankle (it was more like two cracks in the bone) I heard two cracking noises as I went down. I was in so much pain I think I went into shock for a little while. I could not walk on it under any circumstances, and it hurt to even move my leg slightly.

If you can walk on it, I doubt it is broken.



answers from Nashville on

Well, my husband actually sprained his left ankle last Saturday at a bday party. It was at the YMCA and he picked up a basketball to shoot and rolled his ankle when he landed. His DID swell......a lot and instantly. I was convinced he had broken it, but he wouldn't let me take him to the ER and made me wait until Monday. I took him in to the Orthopedic and they did xrays. Sure enough, the doc came back in and said nothing was broken, but he will wish he had broken it. Evidently, this degree of sprain is much more difficult to heal from than a break. His ankle is STILL quite swollen and is many shades of purple, black and green. He is in a walking boot for 3 weeks.......he goes back to the orthopedic on the 27th. At that time, the doc hopes to upgrade him to a lace up ankle brace for an additional 3-5 weeks. So, total of 6-8 weeks of recovery time. The doctor said to take 2 Alieve twice a day for 2 weeks (2, 2, and 2). Keep it elevated above the heart as much as possible (however, if yours isn't swollen, I wouldn't think that would apply to you). Ice the ankle 30 minutes out of every hour. And obviously.........stay off of it as much as possible. They did say to not wrap the ankle. We made the mistake of wrapping it tightly in an Ace bandage thru that weekend it happened. I didn't ask why that wasn't good tho. Anyway......maybe you can do the ice and the Alieve to tide you over until your appt next week. Good luck!!!



answers from Dothan on

Crack means fracture or break. There might not be any bruising due to it being a fracture. If it sounded different than a pop of a joint then go see the doctor for an x-ray. You could have also pop the joint out of place as well. You cant say for sure till ya see a doc



answers from Buffalo on

A sprain involved vascular tissue so you usually see swelling and bruising
A hairline fracture usually does not show much visual symptoms, just extreme pain. I personally believe you broke it, see someone today. If you wait too long things can be worse. (a tendon that has torn or snapped will curl and become impossable to fix if you wait to long)

My nephew jumped out of his window. (Duh I know, I do not understand that situation either) He had no bruising and no swelling. He had 2 pea sized bumps on the top of his foot. When my SIL finally listened to me and took him to the doctors she found I was right, 2 hairline fractures right where the pea sized bumps were. Everyone's bodies handle stress to it differently.

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