An ankle fracture occurs when one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. It can range from a simple break in one bone to several fractures that force your ankle out of place (dislocation). The more bones that are broken, the more unstable the ankle becomes.
There are a few types of ankle fractures:
- Lateral malleolus fracture – occurs in the fibula, at the outside of the lower leg
- Medial malleolar fracture – a break in the tibia, at the inside of the lower leg
- Posterior malleolus fracture – occurs in the back of the tibia at the level of the ankle joint
- Bimalleolar fracture – two of the three parts of the ankle are broken
- Trimalleolar fracture – all three parts of the ankle are broken
A broken ankle may feel like a severe ankle sprain, so it is advisable to seek medical attention if the pain and swelling is severe, and does not resolve.
Some common symptoms of an ankle fracture include:
- Immediate and severe pain
- Tender to touch
- Inability to put weight on the injured foot
The most common causes of an ankle fracture are twisting or rotating your ankle, rolling your ankle, tripping or falling and impact during a car accident.
Your orthopaedic specialist will start off by asking you about your medical history, symptoms and how the injury happened. A physical examination will then be performed to check for swelling and tenderness in your ankle, foot and lower leg.
You will be required to undergo an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is not clear, a CT or MRI may be ordered to provide a clearer picture, and to assess the pattern of the fracture to aid decision making with regards to treatment.
Treatment options greatly depend on the type of ankle fracture sustained. If the fracture is small and the ankle is stable, non-surgical treatment may be possible. However, you will still need to be on crutches, and to wear a cast or a walking boot. Anti-inflammatory medications will help to reduce the inflammation. Once the fracture has healed, physical therapy will be needed to regain mobility of the ankle joint and strengthen the muscles for walking and activity.
If the fracture is displaced, there are multiple bone fractures or the ankle is unstable, surgical fixation is necessary in order to reposition the bones and hold them together with metal plates and screws.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you are suffering from an ankle fracture and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life.