Sprains, Strains & Fractures

Sprains & Strains

A foot or ankle sprain is a soft tissue injury. Most often, a sprain occurs when an injury pulls, stretches, or tears the ligaments or tendons that connect bone to bone. 

Sprains and strains are some of the most common injuries of foot and ankle. Athletes are particularly vulnerable to foot and ankle sprains.   

Tripping or stumbling on uneven ground is another common cause of foot and ankle sprains. Overuse, such as training for a marathon can result in strains and tendon inflammation.  

Pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking on the affected foot or ankle are the most common symptoms of a sprain or strain.  


A fracture is a break in the bone.  Fractures can be an overt crack or they could be subtle as in the case of stress fractures.  Stress fractures are most commonly seen in the metatarsals, but can also occur in the leg bones. 

A stress fracture develops as a result of overuse, repetitive motion as seen in long distance runners who increase their mileage too quickly.  

An overt fracture typically occurs after an overt traumatic injury like those seen in football players or after a fall.  


If you suspect you have a sprain or strain, it is OK to attempt home care with RICE therapy.  However, if this does not provide relief after a few days, call your doctor for evaluation.

If you suspect you may have a fracture, it is best to be evaluated by your podiatrist.  You will likely need x-rays and likely immobilization to allow your injury to heal properly. 

RICE therapy


Rest—Rest the affected area. Stay off the injured foot or ankle until it can be fully evaluated. Walking, running, or playing sports on an injured foot or ankle may make the injury worse.


Ice—Apply ice to the affected area as soon as possible, and reapply it for 15–20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. Ice can decrease inflammation.


Compression—Wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace® wrap) around the affected foot or ankle. The wrapping should be snug, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.


Elevation—Elevate the affected extremity on a couple of pillows; ideally, your foot or ankle should be higher than your heart. Keeping your foot or ankle elevated also decreases swelling.