The ankle joint consists of the tibia, fibula, and talus. If one of these bones is broken, it is considered an ankle fracture. Fracture of the ankle bones can be the result of almost any type of trauma to the lower extremity. Common causes include sports injuries, tripping or falling, and car accidents. Often people injure their ankle and do not seek treatment as they think their injury is not serious enough to warrant care. This delay in treatment can cause problems in the ankle joint months to years later.
If you notice a deformity to the ankle after the injury, you need to see a medical professional immediately. If no deformity is noted and the pain doesn’t go away with ice and rest, or if the pain persists beyond a few days, you must schedule an appointment with our physician immediately. Remember that time is of the essence; effectively treating these injuries is imperative to preventing long-term issues with the ankle joint.
Some ankle fractures can be treated conservatively, if there is no significant deformity or malalignment of the ankle joint.
Rest—Rest the affected area. Stay off the injured foot or ankle to prevent injury. Walking, running, or playing sports on an injured foot or ankle may make the injury worse.
Ice—Apply ice to the affected area and reapply it for 15–20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. Ice can decrease inflammation.
Compression—Wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap) around the affected foot or ankle.
Elevation—Elevate the affected extremity on a stack of pillows; ideally, your foot or ankle should be higher than your heart. Keeping your foot or ankle elevated also decreases swelling.
Immobilization—A CAM immobilization boot may be dispensed to prevent movement of the ankle joint. This aids in healing.
If the fracture is so severe that the ankle joint is out of alignment, surgery will be required. The purpose of this surgery is to correct the position of the bones to allow the ankle to heal appropriately. This surgery often involves the implantation of plates and screws to hold the fractured bones in place while they heal. Patients are often not permitted to put any weight on their surgically repaired ankle for 6-8 weeks.