A Sprain or a Fracture – What’s the Difference?


There are times when it’s vital to distinguish between two similar, yet quite different, things – just like knowing the difference between an ankle fracture and a sprain! Today Dr. Stuart Snyder and Dr. Sara Sharma of Maple Springs Foot Center, LLC are explaining the difference between the two conditions. 

It's easy to mistake ankle fractures and sprains from each other because they can be caused by similar events and have several of the same symptoms. 

Both conditions can happen when you add excessive stress on an ankle at an abnormal angle. For example, it’s quite common to land uncomfortably on the outside of your foot. This will either cause overextension of the ligaments or result in a break in the bottom part of the fibula. In either case, the patient will probably experience swelling and pain in the ankle, but these are two different injuries

An ankle sprain occurs when ankle ligaments are stretched beyond their intended range of motion. Ankle joints are complicated and made up of several connective tissues that can become sprained due to abnormal motion such as twisting or rolling. If the patient can put weight on the affected foot, they have probably suffered an ankle sprain. 

When the ankle is broken, one of the bones - most often the bottom end of the fibula - has become fractured. In some cases, these breaks are the result of a single, traumatic event such as an accident.  

In other cases, overuse can cause a stress fracture, which is a tiny crack formed by the accumulative force of recurring action put on the ankle. A fracture is often more painful than a sprain, and the patient will typically have trouble putting weight on the affected ankle, especially when walking. 

If you think you’ve experienced an ankle sprain or a fracture, contact the offices of Dr. Stuart Snyder and Dr. Sara Sharma of Maple Springs Foot Center, LLC to schedule an appointment. Call us today us at (301) 762-3338 or book your appointment online. Care for broken and sprained ankles is just a small part of the comprehensive care we provide for our patients.