Is My Foot Or Ankle Broken?

You just smashed your foot or rolled your ankle. Did you break it? How can you tell? Below are the criteria used to determine if you need an x-ray to rule out a fracture.

Should I Get An X-ray For My Ankle?

  • Can you take 4 steps? If yes, no x-ray needed
  • Is there pain on the medial malleolus (particularly the bottom 3 inches)? If yes, get an x-ray
  • Do you have pain on the lateral malleolus (particularly the bottom 3 inches)? If yes, get an x-ray

Should I Get An X-ray For My Foot?

  • Can you take 4 steps? If yes, you do not need an x-ray.
  • Do you have pain on the base of the 5th metatarsal? If yes, get an x-ray
  • Do you have pain on the navicular? If yes, get an x-ray

If you can walk on your injured ankle, did you break it?

The biggest thing to look for is the ability to put weight on the ankle/foot. Are you able to take more than 4 steps without a severe limp/pain? It is unlikely you broke something. Do you have the ability to walk normally? You likely do not need to get an x-ray. This rule is not specific enough to 100% rule a fracture in, it just rules it out. Just because you cannot walk on the ankle normally does not mean there is a for sure fracture; it just means the next step you need to take is getting an x-ray.

    If your ankle bone hurts, did you break them?

    The next thing are the medial and lateral malleolus (the big ankle bones). These bony landmarks are the distal (bottom portion) points of the main bones of the lower leg; the tibia and fibula. Are either of them painful to the touch? If not, a fracture is very unlikely. Again, as stated above, pain here does not guarantee there is a fracture; it just means you need an x-ray

    These are the two malleoli (big ankle bones on the side of your ankle). You are looking to identify if there is pain on the bask side of either

    My Foot Hurts, Do I Need An X-ray?

    The next bony landmarks to check for pain is the base of the 5th metatarsal (pictured below) and the navicular (also pictured below). If you press on these spots and you have a good deal of pain? You are going to need to get an x-ray next. Remember an x-ray is warranted, this positive test does not mean your foot is for sure broken.

    The red dot is the base of the 5th metatarsal. If this spot hurt, you need an x-ray
    The circle is the navicular. If this hurts then you need an x-ray

    If your answer to any of these questions is a yes, then you need an x-ray.

    If the answer is a no to ALL of them then an x-ray is not warranted.

    None of these tests are positive and you still have pain? You may have a stress fracture. Read more about it here.

    Wanna learn how to manage an ankle injury right after it happens? Click here

    Do you want to rehab an ankle sprain the same way elite athletes do? Click here