Ankle Fracture

Ankle fracture is a break in one or more bones that make up the ankle joint.

A fractured ankle can range from a simple break in one bone, to several fractures, which forces your ankle out of place. In simple words, the more bones that are broken the more unstable the ankle joint becomes. There may be ligaments damaged as well. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position.

Broken ankles affect people of all ages. During the past 30 to 40 years, doctors have noted an increase in the number and severity of broken ankles, due in part to an active, older population of “baby boomers.”

Three bones that make up the ankle joint are the tibia (shinbone), fibula (smaller bone of the leg) and talus (ankle bone).

Either one or both joints can be involved in ankle fractures, namely the ankle joint – where the tibia, fibula, and talus meet or the syndesmosis joint – joint between the tibia and fibula, which is held together by ligaments

Ankle fractures are most often caused by motor vehicle accident, rolling or twisting of ankle, and by tripping or falling. People participating in sports such as basketball, football, soccer and skiing are at a high risk of developing ankle fractures.

Common symptoms of an ankle fracture include pain and swelling around the ankle, bruising, tender to touch, inability to walk on the leg, and deformity if the ankle is dislocated.

Following an ankle injury it is important to have the ankle evaluated by your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is made based on the history of injury and examination of the ankle. In addition, X-ray of the ankle may be ordered to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatment varies with the type and severity of the injury. The common method of treatment of ankle fractures is adequate rest, ice application, leg elevation, and medications to reduce swelling and pain. A short leg cast or a brace may be applied over the fractured ankle to provide support.

If the fracture is out of place or your ankle is unstable, your fracture may be treated with surgery. During this type of procedure, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment. They are held together with metal plates and or screws attached to the outer surface of the bone to keep the bone fragments together while they heal.

Because there is such a wide range of injuries, there is also a wide range of how people heal after their injury. It takes at least 6 weeks for the broken bones to heal. It may take longer for the involved ligaments and tendons to heal. In some cases, crutches may be used to prevent the ankle from bearing weight.