When you injure your ankle, your provider may need to move your ankle in various ways to determine the extent of the injury. Because the ligaments can be very tender, that physical exam may be somewhat painful.
Depending on the findings of the medical history and the physical exam, your provider may use one or more diagnostic tests to more accurately determine the nature of your ankle problem. Some of the more commonly used tests include X-rays, MRI’s, and arthrograms. Each of these tests can provide different information. X-rays identify the bone injuries. MRI’s are very effective at showing injuries to the soft tissues such as cartilage and the ligaments. Arthrograms allow the structures of the ankle to be observed while in motion.
These tests may be ordered immediately after the injury or your provider may recommend waiting until after that initial swelling and bruising have resolved. Your provider will discuss the various tests with you, and suggest those that are most appropriate for your condition.