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How to Know if You’ve Fractured Your Ankle

How do you know if you've fractured your ankle?

Warmer weather and longer days are finally here. 

Across the city, sunshine beckons the winter-weary out of their homes and into the open air for some well-deserved fun. But summer isn’t just about beer gardens and beach trips – it’s also a season prone to accidents. A quick slip, twist, or tweak to your ankle can leave you on the sidelines with an injury. 

The scary thing is, an ankle sprain and ankle fracture can feel almost identical.  How do you know if you’ve fractured your ankle?

Give me a break

Common culprits of ankle fractures are activities like hiking, jogging, and roller skating. But you might just as easily trip on the cobblestone in Old City, transforming a pleasant afternoon into an agonizing emergency.

So, is it a sprain or a fracture? Pain, swelling, and bruising are symptoms of both.

Some indicating  signs of a fracture include:

  • Inability to bear any weight on the ankle
  • Tingling or numbness in your ankle or leg
  • Pain that extends above the ankle into your leg

Ankle fractures are actually the 4th most common type of fracture, and children are more likely to experience a broken bone than a sprain.

Only a doctor will be able to tell for sure if you’ve broken your ankle by performing an X-ray. If you’re experiencing any fracture symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. 


Philadelphia is chock full of exhilarating summertime activities – and opportunities to take a tumble. Follow these tips to stay safe from accidents:

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  If you’re in flip-flops, don’t attempt to jog up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps a la Rocky. Walk to the top instead – you can still pose for the selfie.
  • Warm-up. Take the time to stretch before engaging in any physical activity. Limbering up can keep you quick on your feet and avoid an accident. 
  • Stay aware. Watching the crew teams on the Schuylkill can be distracting when you’re out for a jog along the Water Works trail. Always keep your eyes on the path to avoid tripping.
  • Refrain from risky behavior. Like your mom always said, make wise choices. If it’s your first time on a skateboard, take it slow. You may be tempted to drop into “The Dome” at FDR Skatepark, but taking time to practice and build your confidence may help you to avoid an injury.  

Braces, crutches, and casts, oh my: How to treat a fractured ankle

Alas, not every accident can be avoided. If you break your ankle, how you care for it will vary based on the severity. Some ankle fracture treatments that your doctor may recommend include:

  • A brace or cast to keep the ankle immobile while it heals
  • Crutches to keep weight off of the ankle
  • Medication for any pain 
  • With more severe injuries, ankle fracture surgery or physical therapy may be necessary

Take a load off

Remember that rest is essential for recovery. So take a break from hiking the Wissahickon and park yourself at one of Philly’s many cafes or restaurants with outdoor seating instead. Prop up your ankle and make a dent in that stack of summer reading books.

If you encounter an ankle injury or any other summertime bump, scrape or break, visit your local vybe urgent care. We’ll help you feel better soon.