Both injuries can be painful and greatly impact your ability to get around, but one is much more severe. Figuring out the difference between each injury can majorly impact which treatment option will best aid in your recovery.
Sprain vs Fracture: Know the Differences
When comparing symptoms between a sprain vs fracture, there is a key difference to be aware of. This largely highlights the difference in severity between a fracture and a sprain.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments, the tough bands of fibrous tissues that connect two bones. In a foot sprain, this most commonly occurs in the ankle.
A fracture, on the other hand, involves damage to the bone itself. In the case of a foot fracture, this can affect the many bones that make up the feet. This can occur in any bone of the foot and any part of the foot.
Location of the Injury
One way to tell if you have a sprain over a fracture is the location of the injury. Typically, an ankle injury is more likely to be a sprain than a fracture, but not always. Similarly, an injury in another part of the foot is more likely a sign of a fracture than a sprain. However, this isn’t a guaranteed indicator, and it’s always best to check with a medical professional first.
While fractures are usually more painful than sprains, this is not always the case. Pain intensity is not always a telltale sign of whether you’re dealing with a fractured foot or a sprained foot. A fractured foot can feel similar in pain levels to a sprained one. A fracture may feel more painful than a sprain would, but this is not always the case.
Fractures and sprains also share overlapping symptoms, like swelling and bruising. This can make it hard to tell which ailment you’re struggling with, especially in the moments immediately after injury.
Foot Fracture Symptoms
If you think you have a broken foot, look for these foot fracture symptoms. Fractures can vary in seriousness or intensity. These can range from tiny cracks in the bones to breaks that can pierce the skin.
At the fracture site, you should feel immediate, throbbing, pain. That pain will increase with activity on the foot, and decrease when resting.
The fracture area may display swelling, bruising, and tenderness. Resting or icing the area should help decrease these symptoms as well.
In addition, it’s difficult to walk on or bear considerable weight on a fractured foot.
Treatment for a fractured foot will also vary depending on the severity. Some fractures need casts, while a severely broken foot may require surgery to treat. This will involve implanting plates, rods, or screws into the broken bone to maintain proper position during healing.
Foot Sprain Symptoms
Foot sprain symptoms may vary slightly, depending on the severity of the sprain. In almost all cases, there is significant pain at the site of the injury. For a foot, this most commonly occurs in the ankle. Additionally, swelling and bruising are common in sprains.
The sprain may limit your ability to move the affected joint through a combination of pain and swelling. At the time of injury, you may also hear or feel a “pop” in the joint in question.
Treating a sprain typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In severe cases, sprains may require surgery to repair torn ligaments.
Treat Your Sprain or Fracture at Diablo Foot and Ankle
At the time of injury, it might be difficult to tell if your foot is fractured or not. When you need an expert opinion, consult the podiatric professionals at Diablo Foot and Ankle.
Diablo’s board-certified medical experts can not only diagnose foot sprains or fractures, but treat them, too. This includes options for foot and ankle surgery for cases that may warrant them. If you’re worried about a potential fracture or sprain, call or schedule an appointment for more information.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.