A fractured ankle means one or more bones that form the ankle joint have broken. From one to many bone fractures, broken ankles can keep you off your feet from weeks to months and can affect people of all ages. In addition to the bones, we can also damage ligaments that help keep bones and joints in the right place.
A GP should assess every ankle injury as a sprained ankle, and a broken ankle can have similar symptons that include:
Immediate and severe pain
- Tender to touch
- Deformity ("out of place"), mainly a dislocated ankle joint
- Cannot apply weight on the injured foot
Your GP will do a careful examination of your ankle, foot, and lower leg and may request additional tests: -
- X-rays - can show if the bone is broke, how many are broke and whether there is a gap between broken bones.
- Stress test - A special x-ray, called a stress test. This x-ray is done to see if certain ankle fractures require surgery.
- CT scan - Can create a cross-section image of the ankle and is sometimes done to evaluate the ankle injury further.
- MRI scan - Provides a high-resolution image of both bones and soft tissues, like ligaments. For some ankle fractures, an MRI scan may be done to evaluate the ankle ligaments.
The causes of ankle fractures can include: -
- Twisting or rotating your ankle
- Rolling your ankle
- Tripping or falling
- Impact during a car accident
Treatment will depend on the type of fracture you have
If your ankle is stable with the broke bones not or barely out of place, you may not need surgery. Treatments range from a high-top tennis shoe to a short leg cast to protect the ankle during recovery. Depending on the fracture, you may or may not be able to apply weight to the leg for a period. Regular check-ups with your GP and x-rays will help confirm the healing of the fracture.
Surgery is used when the ankle is unstable or out of place. The procedure will reposition the fragments of the bone into their normal alignment. Metal plates and special screws may also be required to keep the ankle in position during the healing process.