Injury to one or more of the three bones that form the ankle joint that results in a “broken bone” is known as an ankle fracture. Injuries range from a simple fracture which may only cause mild discomfort to more severe injuries that result in fractures to multiple bones and tears to the supporting ligaments.
Symptoms of an ankle fracture including varying degrees of pain, swelling, bruising to the skin, inability to put weight on the affected ankle, and in some cases, deformity.
The most common cause of ankle fractures including rolling over on the ankle, tripping, falling, and from higher energy injuries such as a car accident.
The diagnosis of an ankle fracture is made by an orthopaedic surgeon following a thorough physical examination and x-ray evaluation. Multiple x-rays may be obtained to identify if a fracture is present. Further tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be ordered if soft tissue injury is suspected and to further evaluate the extent of injury(s).
Treatment options for an ankle fracture depend of the type and severity of the injury. Some simple fractures can be treated with an ankle brace and allow for full weight bearing. Other fractures may require the use of a cast or immobilization boot. Some may not be able to put weight on the leg for upwards of 6 weeks.
Unstable fractures may require surgery to fix. This may include pins, screws, and plates to hold the fracture fragments in place while healing occurs.