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Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot : What Is The Difference?

Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot : What Is The Difference?
Shweta Chaubey

Foot injuries are common and can happen due to sports, falls, or medical conditions. More often than not, injuries are either given very little attention or left to heal on their own. However, as common as this approach is, it is not a healthy practice to leave an injured foot to heal on its own.   

To make sure your feet and ankles are completely healthy, it is essential to pay heed to the treatment of foot injuries, be it a foot sprain, a pinched nerve in the ankle, or even a fracture.   

Sprained or broken foot symptoms are similar and demand resting to allow the body to heal. But, the medical treatment for both is very distinctive. Thus, it is crucial to know where the difference lies and how to tell if your foot is sprained or broken.  

Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot  

Unless one knows the difference between a sprain and a fracture, it is impossible to give the injury the attention it requires to recover. Needlessly, a sprained or broken foot hurts equally bad, but the location and type of the pain differ. When you break a bone, it is called a broken foot. When a ligament is torn, it is called a foot sprain.  

A foot sprain or pulled muscle in the foot is a soft tissue injury and is categorized into three degrees -   

  • Grade 1: Stretching of ligaments.  
  • Grade 2: Excessive stretching of ligaments.  
  • Grade 3: Complete tearing of the ligaments.  

A broken foot is a rather complicated bone injury that may be classified into six different types -   

  • Comminuted fracture: Breaking of the bone into pieces.   
  • Transverse fracture: Breaking of the bone at a 90-degree angle to the axis of the bone.  
  • Oblique fracture: Breaking on an angle through the bone.  
  • Pathologic fracture: Breaking of the bone due to a medical condition.   
  • Stress fracture: Hairline cracking of the bone.   
  • Greenstick fracture: Bending of newly developing bone in children.  

Sprain Foot vs Broken Foot - The Symptoms  

Sprained Foot Symptoms  

Varied types of foot sprains have diverse symptoms depending on the severity of the foot sprain. However, the most commonly visible sprained foot symptoms include:  

  • Pain around the foot arch.  
  • Bruising, swelling, inflammation, and tenderness in the foot.  
  • Limping and excessive pain when trying to bear body weight.  

Broken Foot Symptoms  

The symptoms of a fractured foot depend on the gravity of the broken foot injury. However, the telltale broken foot symptoms are:   

  • A cracking or breaking sound.  
  • Intense pain that worsens if continued with physical activities.  
  • Swelling, tenderness, and bruising in the injured foot.  
  • Deformity around or in the injured area.  
  • Difficulty bearing body weight.  

Diagnosis of a Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot  

A foot sprain is diagnosed by taking x-rays of the injured foot. It is done to determine the severity of the injury and if it's a sprained foot or fracture. As soon as the injury type is confirmed, the treatment is started. It takes two to six weeks for a sprained foot to heal completely.   

During recovery, the doctor is most likely to recommend over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribe the RICE method to deal with the discomfort.  

Similarly, X-rays are taken to confirm the fracture, which helps determine the extent of the injury and the type of broken foot treatment. Subsequently, a CT scan is often needed to detect stress or hairline fracture. It takes eight or more weeks for a broken foot to recover and for the person to get back to daily activities.   

The recovery time for a fractured foot varies on a case-to-case basis. It depends on the injury and the person's medical history. A person dealing with underlying health issues such as anemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or vitamin D deficiency may have a slow recovery.  

Treatment for a Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot

The treatment for sprained ankles or feet aims to reduce pain and swelling, promote recovery of sprained ligaments in the foot, and restore ankle and foot function. Orthopedic surgeons and physicians prescribe physical medicine and rehabilitation therapies for severe musculoskeletal injuries.  

Sprained Foot Treatment

A sprain is often treated with the RICE method to help relieve discomfort. RICE stands for -   

  • Rest: The sprained side of the foot requires adequate rest for the pulled muscles of the foot to heal. It is advised to refrain from doing any physical activity.   
  • Ice: Ice for sprained ankles reduces swelling and inflammation and numbs the pain. Experts suggest using an ice pack twice or thrice a day for about 15-20 minutes or wearing an ankle ice wrap for quicker recovery.   
  • Compression: Wrapping an ankle sleeve with a bandage reduces discomfort and swelling and improves blood circulation.  
  • Elevation: Keep the sprained foot raised to the level of the heart to reduce pain and swelling. When lying on a couch, put an orthopedic pillow under the injured foot.  

Braces for Sprained Foot  

1. Polar Ice Wrap for Ankle and Foot Sprain  

Polar Ice Wrap for Ankle and Foot Sprain is a soft fleece wrap with ice packs for cold-calming therapy. This ankle Ice Pack is intended to provide compression and the benefits of cryotherapy for soft tissue injuries to the foot and ankle. Sealed Ice Polar Ice delivers effective cryotherapy and compression for mild tissue trauma. This brace for ankle sprain also offers efficient pain relief from bruises, sprains, or injuries and is often indicated to be used following physical activity, post-surgically, and during rehabilitation.   

2. Armor1 Ankle Roll Guard for Ankle Sprains   

Armor1 Ankle Roll Guard cushions the ankle from an inversion or roll, preventing foot sprain. It wraps securely around the outside of any shoe type allowing it to retain full ankle mobility & comfort. It provides ankle stability, balance, and protection if the user has weak ankles, tends to roll them frequently, or has a neuromuscular disorder. An ankle roll guard is suitable in physical therapy, podiatry, orthotics, and various sports such as basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, rugby, tennis, and running.   

Sealed Ice Polar Ice Foot And Ankle Wrap


Armor1 Ankle Roll Guard For Ankle Sprains



3. Rolyan Figure-8 Brace with Elastic Strap   

Figure-8 Brace is designed for improved fit and durability and indicated for strains, sprains, swelling, arthritis, and other ankle injuries. It is built with two VELCRO brand side closures with a cut-out heel. Rolyan Figure-8 Brace with Elastic Strap allows variable compression and support.  

Broken Foot Treatment  

A broken foot is treated with the use of a walking boot, a cast for broken foot, a wheelchair, or surgery. Doctors suggest not performing strenuous physical activities and keeping the foot immobilizedBesides icing, bracing, and rest, a broken foot demands extensive medical attention too. It is advised not to put too much pressure on the broken bone and use a post-op shoe for better recovery.   

Braces for a Broken Foot   

1. Ovation Medical Gen 2 Standard Pneumatic Walker for Broken Foot  

Ovation Medical Gen 2 Standard Pneumatic CAM Walker Boot features a low-profile design and minimizes the shock absorption to the fractured foot by fifty percent by alleviating inconsistencies. This Gen 2 Standard Pneumatic Walker offers an ergonomic pump and single push-button to release air. The unparalleled stability of these CAM walkers hinders the extremity from sliding while elevated, making it easier to comply with your doctors' recommendations.  

Rolyan Figure-8 Ankle Brace With Elastic Strap


Ovation Medical Gen 2 Standard Pneumatic Walker



2. Medline Standard Ankle Boot for Broken Foot  

Medline Standard Walking Boot for Broken Foot features a low-profile design to maintain a normal walking gait and balance. Subsequently, the wide distance between the uprights accommodates extra dressings and swelling. One-leg straps and two-foot straps are adjustable for desired size and compression.  

3. DeRoyal Open Toe Vinyl Cast Broken Foot Boot

DeRoyal's Vinyl Cast Boot is available in an open-toe design with a hook and loop closure for easy application. DeRoyal Open Toe Vinyl Broken Foot Cast, constructed of durable vinyl material, has a rocker bottom that promotes a rolling gait pattern. The closed-heel design prevents foot migration.   

Medline Standard Ankle Walkers


DeRoyal Open Toe Vinyl Cast Boot with Hook and Loop Closure



Unless the fracture incurred is one where the bone is broken through the skin, it is difficult to identify the fracture type. Therefore, consulting a professional is the best way to find out whether you have a sprained foot or broken foot and what treatment is required to heal your injury. 

Reference Links for Sprained Foot Vs Broken Foot Article

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HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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