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Ankle Fractures(Broken ankle)

An ankle fracture means that one or more of the bones in your ankle are broken. Ankle fractures are common injuries, especially for athletes. They usually happen when too much stress gets placed on the ankle. Ankle fractures are categorized in two ways: unstable and stable. Stable fractures have enough support from bones and ligaments, the tough fibrous tissue that connect bones, so that there is little motion at the fracture site. Unstable fractures are more severe and usually involve torn ligaments

Ankle Fractures(Broken ankle) Hero Image 2

A broken ankle or ankle fracture means that one or more of the bones in your ankle are broken

 

Your ankle is made up of three bones, the tibia or shin bone located on the inside of your ankle which bears 90% of your body weight, the fibula a long thin bone on the outside of your leg and the talus a small bone that sits above the heel bone. Many times when one bone is broken the other bone may be injured as well.

 

Any of these bones can be broken. Broken ankles or ankle fractures are categorized in two ways: unstable and stable. Stable fractures have enough support from bones and ligaments, the tough fibrous tissue that connect bones, so that there is little motion at the fracture site. Unstable fractures are more severe and usually involve torn ligaments

What causes Ankle Fractures(Broken ankle)?

Ankle fractures are usually caused by twisting or rolling your ankle. Sometimes they happen due to an acute injury, such as from a fall or car accident, or simply following a mis-step. Occasionally, ankle stress fractures may develop over time, due to chronic overuse without adequate time for recovery, repair, and rebuilding.

Ankle fractures are most common in these sports:

• Running
• Basketball
• Soccer
• Football
• Tennis
• Skiing

Symptoms

A common symptom of an ankle fracture is pain. Pain is often immediate at the time of injury and can be severe. Common symptoms also include:

• Pain increases with activity and eases with rest
• Swelling and bruising around the ankle
• Tenderness to touch over the bone
• Inability to put weight on the ankle
• Deformity of the ankle

When to see a doctor

 

If you injure your ankle and are unable to walk four steps or if you have tenderness to the touch on the bone on the outside of the ankle or the inside of the ankle you should have an x-ray. This can be done in your doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency room. If you can walk on your ankle and do not have tenderness on the bone it may not be necessary to have an x-ray immediately or be seen in the emergency room or urgent care facility.

 

If you injure your ankle, you should see your doctor, particularly if pain and swelling don’t resolve . Ankle fractures can be mistaken for sprains, so it is important your injury is properly diagnosed. Your doctor will ask questions about your injury and symptoms and conduct a physical examination. This may include moving your foot in different directions to test your range of motion and stability, as well as examining how you walk. Your doctor may also order x-rays or other imaging tests to assess the extent of your injury.

Non-operative treatment

Treatment of ankle fractures will depend on the severity of the fracture. Stable fractures are typically treated non-surgically. Treatment usually involves rest and keeping weight off the ankle to allow the fracture to heal. Conservative treatments also include:

• Ice
• Elevation of the leg
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, to relieve pain
• A splint, cast, walking boot, or sturdy brace to provide stability to the ankle
• Physical therapy exercises

 

 

 

Surgical Treatment

If the ankle fracture is unstable or out of place, surgery may be the right treatment option for you. In these cases, surgery can help the ankle regain its proper function and prevent arthritis from developing. During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon realigns the broken bones and holds them together with pins/screws and plates. The surgeons may use arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure, to operate on your ankle.

Recovery

Recovery time from an ankle fracture can vary widely depending on the extent of the injury. Typically, after treatment with a cast or surgery, it takes at least six weeks for broken bones and ligaments to heal enough to start weight bearing activities with a walking boot. Physical therapy will play an important role in an athlete’s recovery and return to play.