Strain or Sprain: Rolled Ankle or Something Worse?

rolled ankle

Think You Have a Rolled Ankle?

Think you have a rolled ankle? Is it strained, sprained, or even worse? While you should consult your doctor, check out some great prevention tips and ways to determine how bad your injury is!

Rolled ankle or something worse?

Having a rolled ankle is never fun, but sometimes it hurts so badly you would gladly hear it is just sprained rather than broken.

All the medical terminology that can come along with one can be confusing sometimes. Many people don’t know what the difference is between a sprain and a strain and don’t know how to tell if it is something worse. To help figure it out here is a look at how to tell how your ankle is injured.

These symptoms can be subjective to pain and how hard your roll was. Be sure to always consult with a physician in any situation.

Prevention Tips

Strain or Sprain- Rolled Ankle or Something Worse-Make sure if you do repetitive exercises that involve your ankle or other small joints that you take time to warm up and stretch. Easing into your movement will reduce the possibility of injury and will help your muscles, ligaments, and tendons work in tandem. Do calf raises to start warming up and go slowly.

After your lower leg is warm, do some slow ankle rotations and be sure to feel how it rolls and moves before starting in on any rigorous exercise. As you exercise, take care to land carefully and only on even surfaces.

A sharp jump onto a bumpy line of concrete is a sure way to make sure you can’t jump for a while.

The Difference Between Sprains and Strains

A sprain occurs when a ligament in the ankle is stretched or torn. Ligaments are designed to stabilize and strengthen the joints of the body. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn.

If you hurt your ankle, it is much more likely to be a sprain than a strain.

In fact, the ankle is the most commonly sprained joint in the body. Overuse is usually the culprit here. Exercise and routine movements can cause strains and sprains if you land wrong on it or just do one too many movements on it.

Runners, dancers, and athletes who play sports like volleyball are all increasingly susceptible to these kinds of injuries.


Worst of all is a fracture in the ankle. Breaking the ankle is much less common than spraining it, but it does happen. A broken ankle needs to be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible to prevent further injury. If you think you’ve had a break, be sure to rest and get a professional diagnosis before doing your own treatments. Getting a boot will probably be needed and in some cases a cast.

Walking will be painful, and will probably require the use of a scooter or other aid like a cane.

Seeking Help

Strain or Sprain Rolled Ankle or Something Worse ankleAnkle injuries are quite common, and no one wants to spend four hours in an emergency room for no reason. It is important to be able to determine when exactly an ankle injury requires a trip to the doctor.

The first step in determining your injury severity is remembering the accident. If you heard a cracking sound during the accident, it is most likely a fracture that requires a trip to the ER. However, if it was a popping sound, it is probably a sprained ankle that can be treated at home.

Pay attention to any swelling, pains, and movement you can’t do with the injury. This is a helpful way to check what kind of injury you are looking at and can help your doctor with a correct diagnosis.

If the ankle is crooked or deformed in any way, it is broken and needs to be treated right away. Also, if the ankle is completely immobile or unable to support any weight, then you need to go get an X-ray from a professional to determine if it is fractured.

Getting an internal look is sometimes the only way you can know for sure what is going wrong with your joints and ligaments or if a bone is involved.


Getting through an ankle injury depends on getting the proper treatment.

If you are on the fence about whether or not you need to go to the doctor, always err on the side of caution.

Neglecting a broken ankle can lead to further injury and a longer recovery. It’s best to seek treatment if you are unsure how badly the ankle is hurt. Be sure to request an x-ray as well. Sometimes this can reveal far more than just an exterior exam can on its own.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.
Brooke Chaplan

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