An ankle fracture is a partial or complete break of a bone. Fractures in the ankle can range from an avulsion fracture to a severe shattering type of break. An avulsion fracture involves a small piece of the bone being pulled away. Commonly, ankle fractures are caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward. An ankle sprain usually occurs simultaneously as a fracture.
- Pain at the site of injury
- Significant swelling, which can either be localized or run along the length or the leg.
- Bruising that shows soon after the injury
- Inability to support weight on the injured ankle
- In severe fractures, you may see bone protruding from the skin or skin stretched over broken bone beneath the skin
If the fracture has not put the bones out of place or its a low fracture with small pieces, it can be treated without surgery. You may be put in to a short cast or a removable brace and should avoid putting weight on the affected ankle for 6 weeks. Your podiatrist should be involved in the healing process to make sure the bone is healing correctly.
The goal of treating all ankle fractures is to re-position the bones to prevent arthritis from occurring.
Occasionally, surgery will be considered even if the fracture is not out of place. This is done to increase the success of healing. Also, surgery is usually dependent on the instability of the fractured ankle.Wearing a boot or a cast can treat some minor ankle fractures. However, most ankle fractures do require surgical care. Screws and metal plates are used to accurately realign the fractured bone.
It takes at least six weeks for the broken bones to heal and may take longer for the involved tendons and ligaments to heal. Rehabilitation is very important for this injury. Physical therapy and home exercise programs done regularly is key to healing.