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Foot Sprain vs Fracture: What are the Differences in Symptoms and Treatment?

Dr. Eman Elmi
July 6, 2022
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Because of the business of our daily lives and the reliance we have on walking, patients must pay attention to the health of their feet. It can be especially difficult to move around with an injured foot. There are many kinds of foot injuries that could occur. But, because they are so similar, oftentimes, patients may not know the key differences between one or the other.

Two conditions that are among this list include a sprained foot and a fractured one. To understand what makes each injury unique, we will discuss what a sprained foot is. 

What is a Sprained Foot?

A sprained foot is an injury caused in which the ligaments are tested or pulled. This is a result of the ankle rolling or twisting harshly to the side. When playing outside sports where a person runs a lot, maneuvers around other players, etc., they are at a much higher risk to accidentally hurt their foot. This could also happen when running outside and accidentally misplacing their step. 

Sprain Vs Fractured Foot

Rather than a tear to the ligaments, the bones are broken in the case of a fractured foot. It is worth noting that a fractured foot can also be caused by engaging in extreme outdoor activity. The symptoms and treatment of a sprain and a foot fracture are often discussed to differentiate between the two. For an in-depth assessment of an individual’s condition, they may need to have an x-ray done on their foot.


When trying to walk on a sprained foot, it can be difficult to do so. This is because a person will feel an immediate pain to their ankle or arch when they try to rely on it to walk or run. They can also find bruising on the foot as a result of it twisting or turning severely.

A broken foot can feel the same way since it is more difficult to walk with one, but with greater severity. But, when the incident occurred, was there a cracking sound? That is an indicator that they may have fractured the foot rather than sprained it. Also, like a sprain a person may see bruising on the skin.


The most effective way to treat a sprained foot is to let it stay rested. Particularly, people should keep it elevated for a quicker recovery. While doing so, ice should be applied to it for no longer than 20 minutes. This should be done a few times a day. Also, an individual should ensure that it’s properly compressed to help mitigate the swelling of the foot. Patients will want to keep their foot away from hot temperatures when showering for the first few days of recovery.

As for a fractured foot, patients will need medical attention and, depending on how severe the injury is, a trip to the ER should be made as soon as possible or call 911. This applies to situations where the bone is exposed and pierced through the skin upon impact. For either a sprained or fractured foot, it is imperative to use crutches or a wheelchair to use as a support. This is especially helpful for when a patient is on the go. 

Likewise, over-the-counter medications work to alleviate the pain of both a sprained and a fractured foot. Lastly, when treated by a physician, patients will be instructed when to start walking again so that they can return to their daily routine as usual.

Questions about Foot Sprain Vs Fracture?

If a prospective patient would like to request more information on our services, we at Diablo Foot & Ankle can answer their questions. Contact us whenever you can or book your first visit.

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