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When should you get an X-ray?


A few weeks ago, I was practicing with my roller derby team. I caught my roller skate wheels on another girl’s wheels and my ankle turned awkwardly as I fell down. As I was falling, I heard a pop and immediately knew I had hurt my ankle. I’m thankful we have so many women on our team who work in the medical industry. We stopped practice and removed my roller skate, moving my ankle as little as possible. I sat with my ankle on ice for the rest of practice and then had a friend drive me home. I thought it was just a bad sprain.

Five days later my entire lower leg was still swollen and incredibly bruised. I finally decided to get a “just in case” X-ray. My doctor came back into my room and gave me the news that I had actually broken my fibula when I fell. Although it was a clean break, he explained I would have to have surgery to set the bone with a plate and screws since it had been displaced a few centimeters.

Waiting five days for an X-ray wasn't my most brilliant of moments. I thought a broken ankle should hurt more or dangle awkwardly. My primary care doctor, Dr. Arthur Windholz, told me after my X-ray that some signs that an injury should be X-rayed are:

  • Persistent pain
  • Persistent swelling and/or bruising
  • Deformity of the extremity

Even if the bone is not broken it’s better to confirm that there is no break. Leaving a broken bone to heal on its own puts the bone at risk for setting improperly or complications in the future.