Ankle Fracture

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“I'm up and running,
pain free.”

-Jamie L.

What is an ankle fracture?

The ankle is made up of multiple bones, muscles and connective tissues (ligaments) that work together to provide stability and support and prevent excessive movements. When you fall or experience any traumatic injury involving the ankle, you are susceptible to fracturing, or breaking, one or more of the three bones in your ankle joint – the fibula, tibia and talus. The bony bumps on the end of the fibula (the lateral malleolus) and tibia (the medial malleolus and the posterior malleolus) are also susceptible to fractures. Ankle fractures can vary in severity, ranging from tiny cracks, or stress fractures, to complete breaks.

 

What causes an ankle fracture?ankle joint diagram

An ankle fracture, also known as a broken ankle, occurs when one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. A fracture can result from many types of accidents or injuries, but the most common include falls, car accidents, sports injuries and missteps. In addition, overuse or impact from a heavy object falling on the ankle can also lead to fractures.

 

What are the symptoms of an ankle fracture?

If your ankle is fractured, you will likely experience:

  • A sharp pain in the ankle and/or foot area
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • Difficulty walking and standing on the injured foot

You may feel or hear a snapping sensation at the time of the injury, however, that does not necessarily mean you have experienced a fracture. Some of the symptoms of an ankle fracture may also be the same for a foot fracture and should be examined by a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

 

What are the risk factors for an ankle fracture?

There are several factors that can increase your risk for an ankle fracture:

  • Physical conditions – conditions including osteoporosis, the female athlete triad and decreased sensation in the feet make you more prone to breaking an ankle
  • Sports involvement – participation in high-impact sports that may involve repeated stress, twisting or hits to the ankle area (e.g. soccer, skiing, football, hockey and gymnastics) increases your chances of an ankle fracture
  • Improper sports equipment and technique – using equipment that isn’t fitted properly or is used incorrectly can lead to injuries including falls and stress fractures
  • Occupational hazards – jobs that involve working with machinery or other heavy objects increase the odds that you may experience an facture-causing impact injury

 

What are the treatment options for an ankle fracture?

If you are experiencing pain, swelling or tenderness in the ankle area, call our office at 212‑434‑4920 or fill out the schedule appointment form on this page so Stuart Katchis, M.D. can evaluate and treat your injury as soon as possible. It is important to seek medical evaluation for any injury that does not improve within 2-3 days, especially if you are not able to bear weight on the injured leg.

Treatment options for an ankle fracture will depend upon the location and severity of the fracture.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment options may involve:

Reduction

An ankle fracture commonly requires a manipulation procedure called reduction wherein the doctor repositions the broken bone so it will heal properly.

Immobilization

A cast or another type of splint is almost always required for a broken ankle in order to immobilize the broken bone(s) and enable proper healing.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications

Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can considerably reduce pain. If necessary, Dr. Katchis may prescribe a stronger medication to lessen your discomfort.

Applying ice & elevating the leg

Applying ice to the injured area and elevating the leg will help reduce pain and swelling.

Physical therapy

After a broken bone has healed, proper rehabilitation is often necessary to loosen up stiff muscles and regain strength in the ligaments that support the ankle bones.

Surgical Treatment

Ankle fracture surgery may be required if nonsurgical treatments will not prove effective, particularly in cases of more severe fractures, including those with multiple broken bones. The surgical procedure may involve Dr. Katchis inserting special pins that stabilize the broken bones and hold them in the proper place during healing. Following the surgery, usually performed on an outpatient basis, the lower leg and foot will be immobilized using a cast.

 

What does the recovery process entail?

With both nonsurgical and surgical treatment, physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. Stuart Katchis, M.D. will recommend that patients begin rehabilitation once the bone(s) show signs of significant healing. Physical therapy will help loosen stiff muscles and rebuild strength in the ligaments that support the ankle bones.

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