Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute

How Can You Tell If Your Ankle Injury Is Serious Or Not

Jul 26, 2022
How Can You Tell If Your Ankle Injury Is Serious Or Not
An ankle injury can happen to anyone, even if they are not athlete. The most important thing you need when dealing with this type of problem is prompt care and attention so your body doesn’t heal any other way than how it should be healing currently.....

An ankle injury can happen to anyone, even if they are not athlete. The most important thing you need when dealing with this type of problem is prompt care and attention so your body doesn’t heal any other way than how it should be healing currently on its own.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to get medical attention for an injury so that the ankle can heal adequately or rule out something more serious.

Types Of Ankle Injuries

Understanding common ankle injuries begin with understanding the fundamentals of the ankle. The ankle comprises three major bones: the fibula, tibia, and talus. Ligaments connect these bones at the ankle joint, allowing normal ankle movement. Tendons connect muscles and bones, keeping the bones in place and ensuring the foot and ankle’s stability during movement.

The slightest displacement of any of these elements can cause injury. Ankle injuries are generally classified based on the tissue affected, i.e., ligaments, tendons, etc.

  • Tendons – tendonitis or tendinopathy
  • Muscle – tear or strain
  • Ligament-sprained ankle
  • Bone-fracture


Tendonitis, also known as tendinitis, is a tendon inflammation or irritation. It is frequently caused by a series of minor impacts on the affected area. Various activities can cause tendinitis, but certain factors can increase the likelihood of this injury. These include stress from other conditions such as arthritis, infection, poor posture before a workout, and overuse.

Ankle Sprain

When an ankle ligament is torn or stretched beyond its normal range, this results in sprains. The injury is frequently caused by a fall, ankle twist, or roll. It’s common among athletes and a leading cause of visits to orthopaedic surgeons. The severity of an ankle sprain can be determined by looking at the amount and type of ligament damage as well as how stable your ankles are. Ankle sprain severity levels include:

  • Grade I (Mild Sprain): Your ankle will swell and be tender to the touch.
  • Grade II (Moderate Sprain): You can walk with a noticeable limp.
  • Grade III (Severe Sprain): Ligament has a complete tear, resulting in extreme pain and swelling. Patients may even lose range of motion.

While most ankle sprains heal independently, simple strengthening exercises can help prevent future sprains.

Ankle Fracture

In an ankle fracture, one or more bones in the joint break. It can range from a single broken bone that doesn’t prevent you from walking to multiple broken bones that prevent you from moving for months. Your ankle becomes more unstable as more ankle bones are broken. Torn ligament fibers can also result from this injury.

Ankle fractures can be classified into three categories:

  • Nondisplaced ankle fractures: Ankle bones are broken but still in proper alignment.
  • Displaced ankle fractures: Fractured potions of the ankle bone are separated and misaligned.
  • Maisonneuve ankle fractures: Occur when there is a complete disruption of ligaments around the ankle associated with a fibula fracture at the knee.

Avoiding sports for which you are not prepared can help you prevent ankle fractures. Strengthening exercises prescribed by your physical therapist can also help to prevent future fractures.

What To Do After An Ankle Injury Occurs

Most ankle sprains can be treated at home with simple care. Medical professionals advise using the RICE protocol after an ankle injury.

  • Rest: It’s essential to rest the injured ankle and keep weight off it to prevent further damage.
  • Ice: Using ice slows down or reduces swelling and provides a numbing sensation that eases the pain.
  • Compression: Wrapping an injured ankle with a compression wrap or elastic bandage will provide extra support and immobilize the joint.
  • Elevate: Keeping the affected foot elevated to at least the heart level helps reduce swelling and pain.

Signs That Your Ankle Injury Is Serious

Ankle sprains and fractures have similar symptoms, often localized ankle swelling and instability. The severity of an ankle injury can vary depending on which ligament or muscle is injured. The top four signs that your ankle injury is serious are listed below.

  • Swelling and bruising: Ankle injuries frequently cause the foot and ankle to swell and bruise almost immediately. Expect discoloration in the injured foot as well. It’s safe to assume that the more swelling there is and how quickly it develops, the more severe the sprain. Bruising on the sprained ankle’s side may indicate bleeding beneath the skin.
  • Pain or tenderness: Pain and tenderness in the affected area are two of the most apparent signs of ankle injuries. The injured ankle may feel painful when you try and put weight on it or touch the area. The degree of discomfort varies with the severity of the injury.
  • Limited range of motion: Ankle sprains occur when the ankle ligaments are stretched past their breaking point. Severe ankle sprains can cause ligament damage, limiting your range of motion. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking or running, can cause exquisite pain.
  • Instability: Torn ligaments can no longer provide joint stabilization, leading to chronic ankle instability in severe cases.

People experiencing the symptoms listed above should seek medical attention immediately, especially if they do not appear to improve after a few days. An ankle brace or walking boot may be needed to stabilize the injured joint. Physical therapy may be beneficial if the ankle remains weak and unstable after long rest periods. Regardless of the type of ankle injury, proper treatment is essential for returning to normal activities without functional limitations.

Effective Ankle Injury Treatment In Eagle Mountain, UT

If you’re experiencing any ankle pain and are unsure if it’s severe or not, please get in touch with Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute at 801-756-4200. We offer expert podiatric care in Eagle Mountain, UT, and are dedicated to helping our patients live pain-free lives.