In some cases, it is possible to look for signs of ankle injury such as swelling, bruising, tenderness, and decreased motion. The doctor may also use other tests such as squeezing the bones together or moving one part of the foot by itself. Usually ankle pain prevents a thorough examination. Even with a good exam, it is not possible to use signs and symptoms to tell the difference between a torn ligament and a bone fracture.
An X-ray can show if any bones are broken. A new procedure using an arthroscope allows doctors to see inside the ankle joint. An arthroscope is a tiny TV camera that can be placed inside the ankle to see the bones and ligaments directly. This makes it possible to see and identify any structures that are torn or broken.
Better technology makes it possible for doctors to make the right diagnosis. Accurate diagnosis helps them determine the best possible treatment.