Treatment of an Ankle Fracture
People fracture their ankles in a number of different ways. In fact, fracturing your ankle is one of the most common bone and joint injuries. It can be caused by twisting or rotating your ankle, tripping, or impact during an accident.
There are three bones that make up the ankle joint: the tibia, which is the shinbone; the fibula, which is the smaller bone of the lower leg; and the talus, which is a small bone that sits between the heel bone and the tibia and fibula.
What Are the Symptoms?
Some of the common symptoms for a broken ankle include immediate and severe pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness to touch, inability to put any weight on the injured foot, and a feeling that one’s ankle is out of place (particularly if the ankle joint is dislocated as well).
The degree of pain, inability to walk, or concern that a bone may be broken is what might cause you to seek care in an emergency situation. A serious ankle sprain can feel the same as a broken ankle; every ankle injury needs to be evaluated by a physician.
Treatment of a Fracture
Firstly, you need to visit a doctor to diagnose your fracture. Your doctor will give you an individual treatment plan that is directly specific to your injury and your needs. Stable ankle breaks can be treated without surgery and will require you to keep weight off of the damage for some time.
Unstable fractures usually require you to go through surgery to reset the bones and ligaments of the broken ankle. Pins, screws, or other implements may be used to stabilize the injured areas. Treatment of a fractured ankle always starts with non-surgical methods. The ankle bone is realigned, and special splints or a cast are placed.
Whether your ankle is healed surgically or not, your doctor may also recommend:
Advanced imaging – Some ankle fractures cannot be identified by X-ray alone. Sometimes an MRI or CT scan is needed to fully diagnose your ankle injury.
Ankle supports – Whether or not your ankle is treated surgically, your doctor may recommend wearing an ankle brace for up to a few months after the injury is healed.
Physical therapy – Physical therapy keeps your ankle moving and helps you build up muscle support around the break or fracture.
Ice and elevation – Swelling is usually the first symptom seen following a broken ankle. An essential part of the treatment of an ankle fracture is minimization of swelling. Limiting swelling will help control the pain from the ankle fracture and reduce the damage to the surrounding tissues.
Pain management – Medication may be necessary to help reduce the pain and swelling of a broken ankle.
For surgical treatment of an ankle fracture, the fractured bones are accessed on X-ray, MRI, or CT images. An incision in the skin will be made over the injured area. Hardware is required to fixate the fracture using a specially designed plate that is placed onto the bone to re-stabilize the broken parts. The incision is then sutured up, and the ankle is immobilized with a cast or splint.
After ankle surgery, you have to avoid putting any weight on the ankle for at least six weeks. Physical therapy is usually recommended for at least two to three months before getting back to normal activities.
Contact Us for a Consultation
If you suspect that you may have an ankle fracture, it is vital that you contact Bay Area Foot Care as soon as possible. We can provide you with a consultation with a skilled medical professional, who will examine your ankle and recommend a course of action.