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Is It A Sprain Or A Fracture?

When you injure your foot or ankle and you’re in pain, we at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center advise you to have it examined by our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm. Some of the most common injuries to the feet and ankles fall into two categories: sprains and fractures. The symptoms of these two types of injuries overlap, so it can be difficult for the average person to tell them apart.

Here are some distinctive features of sprains and fractures:

  • A sprain is an injury of the ligaments (soft tissue that connects one bone to another) or tendons (soft tissue that connects muscles to bones). Sprains are rated on a scale of bad to worse; that is, the tissue can be overstretched, somewhat torn, or completely torn.
  • A fracture is a broken bone. A bone may have a small crack that doesn’t cut all the way through – that’s a stress fracture. Fractures that are more serious include a complete break, a complete break where the pieces of bone are moved out of place, and a complete break with the bone slicing through the skin.

Clearly, if you can see bone through your skin, you’ve got a dangerous fracture that requires a trip to the ER. However, what if it’s not so clear? A severe sprain in which a tendon or ligament has completely torn may cause you as much pain as a complete fracture. It may be just as difficult to walk on a sprained ankle as it is a broken ankle. Both injuries can cause pain, redness, swelling and bruising. So how do you know?

Residents of Fairfax County, Virginia who sustain a foot or ankle injury should make an appointment with Dr. Wilhelm. Our office in Centreville is equipped with digital x-rays so he can reach a diagnosis without having to send you elsewhere for imaging. Dr. Wilhelm is also an outstanding foot and ankle surgeon and as such is well qualified to heal your injury through surgery, if necessary. For outstanding medical care for sprains and fractures of the foot and ankle, call us at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online.

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