How painful is a sprained ankle? And what has turned out to be more painful than you expected?

To start, I’m not looking for medical advice.

So, I’m at a friend’s party this afternoon (he graduated with his nursing degree!) and there are a bunch of kids there. I take mine over to the playground around the way to play. It’s been raining a lot so the equipment is slick, which is why I hopped on one of the platforms when my daughter shot up the steps. I was going to get her off. She’s just 18 months and not exactly 100% steady on her feet. She’s fast and managed to climb through a tube to the other platform, so I whirled around to get off said contraption when my sandal slipped, my foot fell off it and I rolled my ankle violently and dropped off the steps to the playground equipment. On the way down, I heard a loud pop.

I limped around for a while, managed to grab the baby and limped around the way to the shelter where the party was being held (about .1 mile away). My friend took a look at my ankle. It’s probably just a bad sprain and not a break. But, goddamn does this make all my previous ankle sprains feel like child’s play. I had no idea a sprained ankle could be so uncomfortable. I can walk on it (after a fashion), but I can feel pressure on my ankle even when I’m not putting weight on it.

If it’s not feeling much, much better tomorrow morning, I’m going to acute care.

So, now that you’ve heard my spiel, what experiences have you had that have been more painful than you expected?

For what it’s worth, childbirth and shingles still vie for #1, but I knew both of those were supposed to hurt a lot.

If you heard a pop, you may have broken it. A broken ankle hurts MUCH more than a sprain, but depending on what exactly broke, you might still be able to walk. Hie thee to a doctor.

A pop could also be the ligament(s) tearing. Still, see a doctor.

Also Rest, Ice ,Compression, Elevation.

Also, NSAIDs.

It takes very little force to break your fibula, please go get an xray. There is a difference between a mild sprain and a torn ligament, please go to the doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis. Here is a fairly informative site for ankle sprains:

Playing soccer 2 years ago I tried to make a cut and my ankle popped and I went down. Managed to crawl to the sideline. Couldn’t bear to put weight on it so I wasn’t sure if it was broken. Did some paperwork for campus recreation ass covering purposes and drove myself home with just my left foot (glad it was an automatic). Then I drove myself to the doctor - they xrayed it - no break, just a bad sprain. But they put me on painkillers and crutches with a brace - estimated 3 weeks or so, but I got on to one in about a week. Couldn’t stand being on one, made it impossible to travel with any speed.

Mine have never hurt. There’s just a “that’s not right” feeling. Afterward it hurts to put pressure or torque on it, but not when it happens.

I once rolled my ankle on the base in softball, really bad. Got back to the dugout and was sick to my stomach, that night it was swollen and black and blue from my toes to most of the way up to my knee. It hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep, luckily I had some left over percocet from some other injury.

Went to the dr and he said, yep, looks like a bad sprain, just stay off it for a couple weeks.

I’m not sure if maybe I did something more than just sprain, but I now only have 2/3 mobility in that ankle (in all directions).

I sprained mine playing tennis on a hard court. I turned to chase a lob and my foot just stayed stuck to the hot court and i rolled over it. I assumed it was sprained, went home and started to treat it. By that evening I was in agony and having to crawl around the flat so i went to the hospital for X-rays. When the doctor came out he said, “Bad luck.”


“Oh no, sorry. It’s a severe sprain. A break would heal faster and better.”

Turned out he was right. It took months to come good and has never really been the same since. due to the stretched ligaments.

I once sprained my ankle in a pothole on Pulaski and Fullerton in Chicago.

The year was 1978 or '79. To this day, my ankle will occasionally give way without warning.
It hurt like a bitch then and now, and it’s noticibly thicker than my other ankle.

I’ve always heard that a sprain hurts worse than a break. I don’t really care to break it to compare.

Thanks for the stories - keep 'em coming.

For what it’s worth, I did just go attempt to see a doctor. I looked around for an acute care center, but all of them closed at 8 (it was 8:30). I don’t think this is ER-worthy because I’m not in any pain when I have the ankle in a decent position and don’t move it, but there is a goose egg around my ankle bone. That’s the only swelling I have.

Don’t go to the ER, but do get an xray when you can get in. I fell a few years ago and nearly fractured my wrist…it hurt for months after, anyway.

And my vote is back pain. i always thought people were kind of making it up. Some probably are, but then I sprained something in a lower back muscle. HOLY FUCKING CRAP. I wanted to cry just to stand up.

Twisted my ankle once and it hurt so fucking bad that I can’t believe breaking it could have felt worse. I was writhing on the ground in tears.

By the way, the most pain i’ve ever been in was from a kidney stone. A close second was an infected tooth I had that ended up having to be yanked.

I have sprained an ankle, broken an ankle and have pseudogout in my feet.

Sprain hurts worse than a break, but the pseudogout when it is in acute flare makes me want to saw my foot off. I claim I am joking that the only thing keeping me from asking them to cut my feet off is the fear of phantom pain, but to be honest, I am actually afraid that if they did cut off a foot I would permanently have the CPPD pain as phantom pain and no way to get rid of it.

I have an insanely high pain tolerance and the CPPD is the only time my husband has ever seen me crying from pain. I would rather have someone sitting next to me hitting me on the head with a hammer constantly if that would eliminate the CPPD from my life.

Answers to the second part of the question:

Plantar fasciitis. Ten of ten on the pain scale, like somebody hammering an ice pick into your heel.

Arthritis. Put the wrong pressure on an arthritic joint and the pain is instantaneous and excruciating.

Some ERs have a “fast track” setup for relatively minor injuries and illnesses. Mine does, and when I’ve had to go, I’ve been in and out fairly quickly. I’d get it looked at fairly quickly; if you have a fracture, it may not set correctly if you wait too long to get it taken care of.

That said, I’ve sprained both ankles a lot and rather severely. They HURT. A LOT. (At least for me. YMMV.) I second the RICE recommendation; following those can make a big difference in recovery and subsequent problems. You can also find exercises that you can do to help strengthen the ankle and preserve range of motion.

My vote for more painful than I expected goes to tendinitis. It hurts like a mofo and takes a long time to heal.

Sprained ankle is my answer, too. I couldn’t put weight on it, actually. Had to crawl up the steps I’d just fallen down. At least my husband was there to pay the pizza guy I was meeting halfway. Poor pizza guy - I must have scared the hell out of him!

Worst pain I’ve experienced, and I’ve had both vaginal (no epidural) and c-section births.

I slipped in the stairs at work earlier this year. Your symptoms match mine. It was a sprain. They tried to give me painkillers (which I can’t take because it’s just my young daughter and me) and put me in a boot and crutches. It still get pings once in a while if I turn my foot the wrong way, and my ankle is still swollen on that side. The ortho said it would probably always be bigger than the other ankle and will give me trouble the rest of my life.

My recent absessed tooth (which I just had “canal’d” and crowned) was worse pain than any labor pains I ever experienced! Why isn’t there some sort of epidural for that?!?

You’d think from the name that a frozen shoulder would be kind of pleasant, but when I had one, it was the only time I’ve ever cried out from pain (my hand slipped off the bed and pulled that shoulder and caused the scream - funnily enough, I had a very good recovery from the frozen shoulder and I wonder if that inadvertent stretch might have helped). It got bad in the middle of the night (as most things usually do), and I spend some hours in the ER almost crying with pain before the diagnosis, which makes me kind of mad thinking about it because someone could have given me a painkiller (even Tylenol) right at the start and saved me hours of bad pain, but that’s not how ERs work.

I turned my ankle playing football. Hurt really quite a lot, no way I could play on, I was even frightened to look down in case I saw my foot hanging off! Within 10 minutes though I could walk/hobble gingerly. I did drive home (someone suggested I do this fast before the swelling started, excellent advice), but it was a week or so before I could walk somewhere near normally and a good 12 months before it felt ‘right’. I never saw a doctor, I assumed it would have been agonising if there were a break.
However, the injury that hurt a lot more than expected was a hockey ball (field hockey, very hard ball) to the right testicle. Sure it hurt at the time as I clawed at the astroturf vomiting, but the pain over the next week was unbelievable. There was no obvious bleeding or swelling, so I didn’t see a doc, but I did have to take pain killers for 10 days or so just so that I could walk. I don’t recommend it.

When I was 12 I spent the summer at relatives’ farm outside of Quebec. Was running and romping through a field and my ankle tripped up on a wire from an old fence hidden under the tall grass. Son of a bitch, that hurt! I limped into the house crying my head off, and to make it worse, they all spoke French and couldn’t understand what was wrong! Lucky my English speaking grandmother came back from the neighbors down the road right away. I didn’t think I had broken anything (which would have required a 2 hour trip to the nearest city) but my ankle really hurt, and proved to be weakened for years to come.