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True or False: If You Can Walk on It, It's Not Broken

True or False: If You Can Walk on It, It's Not Broken

You injured your ankle or foot and may feel some pain, but you can still walk on it, so it can’t possibly be broken, right? Not so fast. You could still have a fracture and not realize it.

A broken or cracked bone is called a fracture. When the bone is broken and displaced, it’s called a compound fracture. Fractures can involve soft tissue damage as well which includes ligaments and tendons. Damage to the foot and ankle can get very complicated and require specialized treatment that emergency rooms are usually not prepared to address.

The Truth About X-Rays

The ankle and foot are made up of many tiny bones that can break. While an x-ray may show some breaks, it may not always pick up fractures or ligament damage. What’s more, the x-rays are taken at the emergency room typically follow a standard set of procedures that are taken from specific angles and do not involve any weight-bearing pictures.

Some injuries of the foot and ankle must be diagnosed from a variety of x-ray angles, including weight-bearing pictures. In some cases, an MRI may be necessary to accurately diagnose an injury.

Is It Broken? How to Tell.

is it broken, broken leg, broken bone, broken ankle

The signs of a broken or fractured bone in the foot or ankle are very similar to a sprain, strain, or even soft tissue damage.

Common signs of a break include:

  • Pain in the injured area but can radiate up the leg or into the foot.
  • Swelling in the injured area, but the entire ankle and foot can swell.
  • Redness or bruising at the injury site.
  • Inability to bear weight on the leg.
  • Deformity of the ankle, foot, or toes.

You may experience some of these signs or all of them. You may still be able to walk, or you may find it too painful to bear weight on that leg.

Fractures of the feet and ankles can be complex and could potentially affect your mobility for years – possibly for life. It’s important that you address a suspected fracture as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment give you the best chance at recovering as much of your mobility and strength as possible. Emergency rooms are designed to address emergent issues. You need specialized medical care.


If you think you have a fracture, Ogden Clinic provides urgent care services, orthopedics, and physical therapy. Call us at 801-475-3000 and get the care that you need.