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. These tests are not conclusive; they are just enough to determine if an x-ray is needed.
Should I Get An X-ray To See If My Foot Is Broken?
There is a simple cluster of rules to determine if an x-ray is needed. Its called the Ottawa ankle rules (link)
- 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
- 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
Is Your Foot Broken?
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
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.
If your answer to any of these questions is a yes, then you need an x-ray.
You do not need an x-ray if the answer to all the questions is a “no”.
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