While broken and sprained ankles are two very different injuries, early treatment for both is the same. Anytime an individual suffers a broken or sprained ankle, an ice pack should be applied and the ankle elevated in order to minimize swelling. A broken ankle indicates a fracture of one or more of the bones in the ankle. Sprained ankles occur when a ligament in the ankle has been stretched or torn. Further treatment for a broken or sprained ankle largely depends upon the severity of the injury.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate between a broken or sprained ankle is by the degree of pain present. If pain is primarily limited to the application of pressure on the ankle, the injury most likely is a sprain. Persistent pain that travels down the foot or up the leg could be a sign of a broken ankle. In the case of a severe sprain or a broken ankle, the injured individual should seek medical attention for professional treatment.
Sprained ankle treatment depends upon the grade of the injury. A grade I sprain is generally treated with rest, heat or cold treatments, and compression. Once the swelling has been reduced by elevating the ankle and applying an ice pack, a heat treatment may provide some relief from pain as well as allow the muscles in the ankle to relax. Grades II and III ankle sprains may require medical attention. Physical therapy or surgery may even be necessary for severe ankle sprains.
A broken ankle is generally treated in much the same way as a severe sprain, though treatment is more intense. The fracture or break in the ankle is treated with the application of a splint or cast. In the case of severe breaks, surgery may be required. This surgery might include the use of special pins or screws to help secure the bone. Any fractured or broken ankle that results in skin breakage also will require intravenous antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection.
Once the degree of the injury has been determined and proper treatment has been applied, broken or sprained ankle injuries both require an adequate amount of time to properly heal. A grade I ankle sprain may mend in as little as three to six weeks, while a broken ankle might require months to properly heal. In the case of severe damage, broken and sprained ankle treatment might include physical therapy in an effort to fully restore use of the ankle.