Symptoms of a broken ankle

Updated July 19, 2017

Each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 184 out of 100,000 people will suffer an ankle fracture. A slip in the shower or a fall while playing sports can injure your ankle. How can you tell if your injury is a fracture or a severe sprain?


The ankle may make a popping, cracking, or thudding sound when the injury happens. This does not always indicate an ankle fracture. Severe sprains can mimic the pain, swelling, and bruising of a broken ankle.


Bearing weight on a fractured ankle can further damage it. Responders need to know how to move the injured person or whether a visit to the emergency room is necessary.


Due to shock, the injured person might not feel the usual intense pain of a broken ankle for several minutes after the accident. Check the patient for signs of shock and give treatment, if necessary.


The patient may feel intense pain in the ankle right away. Touching the ankle causes greater pain. With severe fractures, the patient may not be able to stand on the leg.


If the ankle looks out of alignment or if bones are protruding in an unnatural way, the ankle is obviously broken. After several minutes, the broken ankle will swell and bruise.


If only one bone in the ankle has a hairline fracture, the least severe of fractures, the patient might be able to stand but feel pain whenever the ankle bears weight for too long. Rest relieves the pain while weight bearing increases it. Have the ankle X-rayed to rule out a hairline fracture.

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About the Author

For almost four years, Sandra Petersen has written fiction stories and non-fiction articles for sites like FaithWriters, Associated Content, Helium, Textbroker, and Triond as well as Demand Studios. Petersen attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior and earned her Bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in music education.