Foot & Ankle - FAQs

Our Orthopaedics team offers a variety of treatment options – both surgical and non-surgical – to help ease your foot and ankle pain. Some frequently asked questions about the injuries and conditions that affect the foot and ankle.  

What's the difference between a twisted, sprained and fractured ankle?

A twisted ankle is when you stretch your ankle ligaments past the normal point. Typically it feels better quickly without any medical intervention. 

A sprained ankle is when you stretch or possibly tear the ankle ligaments. Ankles that are swollen, bruised and painful are most likely sprained. Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe pain. 

If you hear a crack during your ankle injury, it is most likely broken. If your ankle looks crooked or deformed, feels numb, extremely painful or you cannot put any weight on it, it may be broken. A doctor will confirm the break with an X-ray.

How do I heal an ankle injury?

If your ankle is twisted or sprained, use the R.I.C.E method for healing: 

  • R: rest your ankle 
  • I: ice if there is any swelling
  • C: use compression to immobilize and support your ankle 
  • E: elevate your ankle above your heart to reduce swelling 

If your ankle is sprained and does not improve with the R.I.C.E method after a few days, see your doctor. A boot or splint may be needed. 

If your ankle is fractured , you will need to wear a cast or boot to completely stabilize the bone until it has healed.

Do I need crutches?

If your ankle is fractured, some casts require using crutches to keep weight off of the ankle until it’s completely healed. Some casts and walking boots allow you to walk short distances without assistance.

Will I need ankle surgery if I fracture my foot?

If your ankle fracture is severe or if your ankle bones appear unstable, you will be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon who will evaluate your need for surgery to reposition the bone. Sometimes screws or metal plates are attached to keep the bones together while they heal. 

What are the different types of fractures?

  • Closed — the skin is not broken.
  • Displaced — the end of the broken bone is cracked and the bones have separated.
  • Non-displaced — the end of the broken bone is cracked but the bones remain together.
  • Open — the skin is broken down to the bone. This is the most serious type of fracture.

Treatment options are specific to your type of fracture. The St. Elizabeth Orthopaedic team will evaluate your fracture and determine the best treatment plan.

What is ankle arthritis?

There are three types of arthritis that affect the ankle – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis.  Arthritis occurs when the lubricating fluid and cartilage around the ankle decreases, causes the bones to grind against each other. This causes pain and inflammation.

What is ankle arthodesis?

Ankle Arthrodesis is when the bones of the ankle are surgically fused together so that the joint no longer moves. It causes less mobility in the ankle joint but also less pain.

What is an ankle replacement?

Ankle Replacement is a surgery that replaces the damaged bone and cartilage in the ankle joint with an artificial ankle joint. Ankle replacement surgery offers both pain relief and mobility.

Contact Us

Is your foot or ankle pain bothering you? Schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians for a treatment plan tailored to you. Call (859) 212-5600 to make an appointment.

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at