I Injured My Ankle: Do I Need an X-ray? 

Mar 11, 2024
I Injured My Ankle: Do I Need an X-ray? 

After an ankle injury, you need to find out exactly what the injury is and just how serious it is. An X-ray might be the first diagnostic test that comes to mind — but do you really need one?

X-rays use electromagnetic energy to create detailed pictures of your bones, tissue, and organs. They’re especially good at evaluating bones. Soft tissues don’t show up nearly as well on X-rays, so other imaging tests like ultrasounds may be better for some types of injuries. 

When you injure your ankle, our team of knowledgeable specialists at EMC Express Care is here to evaluate your injury and provide fast treatment seven days a week in our North Richland Hills, Texas, office. 

Every case is different, so we determine whether you need an X-ray through a detailed evaluation. Read on to learn when you might need an ankle X-ray. 

When you have ankle tenderness or pain

Our team does a gentle hands-on exam of your ankle and foot, checking for tenderness and pain in your ankle joint. Specifically, we look for discomfort in:

  • The lateral malleolus: the outer ankle bump at the end of your fibula (long leg bone)
  • The medial malleolus: the protruding bump of your inner ankle

Usually, discomfort in either of these areas means it’s time for an ankle X-ray. 

When you have difficulty bearing weight and walking 

During your exam at EMC Express Care, we ask you to bear weight on your ankle and try to walk four steps without assistance. If you’re unable to do so, even limping, we usually recommend an ankle X-ray at that time. 

The Ottawa Ankle Rules are general guidelines that help medical providers avoid unnecessary X-rays while still thoroughly evaluating your ankle injury. 

X-rays versus other imaging tests

Every situation is unique, so you may still need an X-ray even if your symptoms don’t necessarily match up with the rules above. We treat every patient case-by-case to make sure you get the complete care you need. 

X-rays are highly effective in diagnosing ankle fractures. For other types of suspected injuries, you may need another kind of imaging. For example, ligament and tendon injuries can hurt as much as a fracture and may cause similar impairment but aren’t visible on X-rays. 

Sometimes, if you don’t need an X-ray or if your X-ray doesn’t show an obvious problem, we may recommend an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, or other imaging that shows soft tissue injuries better. 

X-rays and other types of imaging allow you to get the customized ankle treatment you need much faster. We make it convenient by doing X-rays here at our EMC Express Care office. We’re open 10am-8pm, seven days a week to examine your ankle, do X-rays as needed, and provide prompt treatment. Call us at 817-503-8800 now.