The foot and ankle are complex parts of the body. Sometimes it is impossible to tell what the injury is without an X-ray or other tests, such as a bone scan or MRI (magnetic resonance image). Computed tomography (CT scan) is also helpful for seeing if there is serious damage to a bone. If there is pain, swelling, tenderness to touch, redness, decreased motion, and inability to put weight on the foot, then a visit to the doctor is necessary.
When in doubt, you can use the RICE advice. These four letters stand for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest the sore ankle so it can begin healing.
- Ice the ankle for 20 minutes every three to four hours.
- Compress the joint with an elastic wrap or splint.
- Elevate the sore and swollen limb for 24 hours.
If after 24 hours the symptoms are much improved and it is possible to put full weight on the ankle, a fracture is unlikely. If there is little or no change in how the ankle looks and feels, see your doctor.