Is This a Sprain or a Fracture?

Often when we sustain a foot injury, a well-meaning coach, parent, or friend will tell us the age old advice of: “walk it off.” The truth is though, a foot injury could be more than just a painful limp for a day or two. Walking it off could take you down a painful path of a long recovery, especially if what you’re dealing with is a sprain or even a fracture. Sprains and fractures come with different recovery times. They can both be painful, but one is a bit more severe. Having a podiatrist assess an injury and get you on the path to recovery can greatly impact your rehabilitation.

What’s the difference between a sprain and fracture?

A sprain is when a ligament that connects two bones in the ankle becomes injured, stretched, or tor. The sprains that podiatrists treat typically occur in the ankle. A fracture involves damage to the bone. There are 26 bones in each foot and a fracture can occur in any one of them or the ankle.

Many people think that a fracture will hurt much worse than a sprain. That’s not always true, however - a sprained ankle can feel just as painful as a fracture in your foot. Fractures and sprains also share some overlapping symptoms, like swelling or bruising. This is why you should always see a podiatrist for a foot or ankle injury.

What are symptoms of a fracture?

As with any injury, the severity of a fracture can range greatly. A fracture could be a tiny crack or a bone break that could pierce your skin. If you think you’ve broken a bone in your foot or ankle, you might see some of these fracture symptoms.

Throbbing pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest

Swelling, bruising, or discoloration

Difficulty walking or bearing weight on particular areas of your foot

A fractured foot typically needs a cast and rest to heal. For some severe breaks, however, surgery may be required to treat.

What are sprain symptoms?

The level of seriousness of a sprain can also vary greatly. Here are common signs of a sprain:

Significant pain at the site of the injury




Limited mobility in the affected area

The RICE method of treatment - rest, ice, compression, and elevation - works wonders on sprains. In severe cases like a torn ligament, however, your doctor may suggest surgery.

Get help from a podiatrist 

If you suffer a foot or ankle injury, come to see our podiatrists and have the pros determine if it’s a sprain, fracture, or something else. With years of experience and advanced technologies to help diagnose and treat foot injuries, our foot doctors are the ones to trust! Book an appointment with Kentucky/Indiana Foot and Ankle Specialists at any of locations in Louisville, Bardstown, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, and New Albany to get high level podiatric care!

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