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Lt Col Jerman
When you injure your ankle, your provider will do a physical examination and possibly some diagnostic tests to determine whether you have a sprain, a fracture, or some other type of injury. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about diagnosing ankle injuries?

Dr. Patel
Absolutely, Dr. Jerman. Your provider will most likely start with a physical examination of your foot and ankle. They may need to move your ankle in various ways to determine the extent of the injury. Because the ligaments can be very tender, the physical exam may be somewhat painful.

Depending on the findings of the medical history and the physical exam, your provider may use one or more diagnostic tests to more accurately determine the nature of your ankle problem. Some of the more commonly used tests include x-rays and MRIs. Each of these tests can provide different information. X-rays identify bone injuries. MRIs are effective at showing injuries to the soft tissues, such as cartilage and ligaments.

These tests may be ordered immediately after the injury, or your provider may recommend waiting until after initial swelling and bruising have resolved. Your provider will discuss the various tests with you, and suggest those that are most appropriate for your condition.

If you cannot walk more than four steps immediately after an ankle injury, you should seek medical care immediately.