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Exams and Tests

When a doctor evaluates your ankle, the main task is to determine if you have fractured a bone or if the joint has been damaged sufficiently to have become unstable. Joint instability often suggests multiple fractures, a fracture with a ligament injury, or sometimes ligament injury alone.

  • The doctor will seek a history of the injury and will ask the following. These questions are important because different mechanisms of injury are associated with different fracture patterns.
    • Where does it hurt now?
    • How long ago did your injury happen?
    • Does your knee, shin, or foot hurt also?
    • How did the injury happen?
    • Did your ankle turn in or out?
    • Did you hear a crack or a pop?
    • Were you able to walk immediately after the injury?
    • Can you walk now?
    • Do you have any new numbness or tingling in your leg, ankle, or foot?
    • Have you had previous ankle fractures, sprains, or surgeries?
  • The doctor will perform a physical exam, looking at or for the following:
    • Evidence of bruising, abrasions, or cuts
    • Swelling, bleeding, and tissue damage
    • Pain, deformities, and the grinding or movement of broken bones of the knee, shin, ankle, and foot
    • Pain, excess looseness of a joint, or complete tear in ligaments
    • Fluid in the joint and joint stability
    • Pulse and evidence of injured blood vessels
    • Sensation and movement in both your ankle and foot

If the doctor suspects a broken bone, he or she will ask for ankle X-rays. The doctor may also ask for X-rays of your knee, shin, or foot, depending on where the pain is.

Ankle Fracture Treatment Self-Care at Home

If you suspect a fracture, you should call your doctor or go to a hospital's emergency department immediately. You can do the following until you can get to a hospital or doctor's office:

  • Stay off the injured ankle so you do not injure it further.
  • Keep the ankle elevated to help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Apply cold packs to the injured area to decrease swelling and pain. Do not apply ice directly. Cold packs are effective for the first 12-24 hours.

Ibuprofen (Advil, , Motrin) may be ideal for ankle injuries because it acts as both a pain medicine and a medicine to keep inflammation down. But check with your doctor first if you have any medical problems or take any other medicines or supplements.

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