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The foot and ankle contains a total of 26 bones. Any one of the bones can become fractured as a result of injury. Tendons are the connective tissue that connects bones to each other and holds them together. When these become strained or torn, often as a result of being hit or twisted, the result is a sprain. If a ligament is completely torn, sometime a pop is heard or felt.
Fractures can be diagnosed with the use of an X-ray, or other imaging such as a CAT scan or MRI. Sprains are often diagnosed on the basis of the type of injury and where the pain and tenderness is. Sometimes an MRI can help diagnose a specific sprain.
The initial treatment of either a sprain or a fracture includes rest, elevation and ice. It is important to keep weight off of the affected foot or ankle. In some cases a cast or splint is applied to minimize motion so that the foot or ankle can heal properly. In other cases surgery may be needed to repair a ligament or to stabilize a fracture.
If the support of the foot is compromised, then permanent damage may result. If the tissues do not heal properly then pain may progress and not go away.