Fracture or Sprain?

Foot injuries are common when playing sports. Many can be intensely painful, but how can you tell whether it’s a fracture or a sprain? If you are experiencing foot pain after sports, a visit to the ER may be necessary to diagnose the problem. Fractures are injuries that involve damage to the bones, while sprains are injury to the ligaments.

One common type of sprain occurs in the mid-foot. This can occur after an accident during pivoting or twisting the foot. The area will be painful and swollen. A few hours after the injury, some bruising may be visible on the top of the foot.

To find out whether you are suffering from sprains or bone fractures, your Deerfield Beach area foot doctor will most likely perform x-rays from several angles. The x-rays will reveal any broken bones. If there is a rupture of the ligaments, the bones of the foot will be farther apart than normal, indicating that the ligament has been stretched and possibly even separated from the bone. If a more serious injury is suspected, the x-ray may be followed with an MRI.

Sprains are divided into three categories. The first, category one, occurs when the ligament stretches, but then returns to its original shape. Category two is a partial rupture, and category three a complete rupture.

For most mild sprains, the foot is immobilized for a period of time, and the patient is given NSAIDS to cope with the pain and swelling. For more serious sprains, surgery may be required. For fractures, the patient will usually have the bone set and be required to wear an immobilizing cast for a period of time.