Ankle fractures are a common injury associated with some of the rougher and tumble sports that people enjoy, including rugby, football, soccer, skiing, and baseball. But ankle fractures are possible from stepping oddly on a stone and having your ankle turn suddenly. Simply slipping and falling on ice is a common cause of ankle fractures.
A broken ankle can be the result of a sudden impact event, such as being hit by a heavy object or a car accident. It can also result from rolling your ankle while simply walking from A to B.
At the ankle, the fracture occurs with sudden
- Rolling the ankle inside or out
- Overextending the ankle
- Coming down hard on the ankle with excessive force
Sprains and Breaks
There is a running debate among athletes about which is worse, an ankle fracture or a sprained ankle. Certainly, the severity or complexity of a fracture would indicate a fracture can be far worse. But sprained ankles or often said to heal slower than broken bones, so the debate continues.
One thing is for sure: When you sprain or break an ankle, you instantly realize how much weight that delicate structure is bearing day after day, each time you stand, walk or run. The ankle does this with a structure that is made of three bones and ligaments that stretch over the joints to hold them together.
The ankle is made of the tibia bone, which is the heavier of the two bones that run down the calf. The other, which is on the outside of the leg is the smaller bone called the fibula. Both the fibula and the tibia attach to the tallus, which is the bone of the foot that is farthest to the top.
The primary symptom of an ankle fracture is pain and sometimes the pain is very intense. On the other hand, stress fractures, as opposed to compression fractures or traverse or oblique fractures, can be much more subtle. Sometimes people have relatively slight fractures and not realize they have an injury. Only later, when the pain continues or worsens do they realize something is wrong.
When to see a doctor:
- When you cannot put any weight on the ankle
- When the bruising or discoloration is severe
- When the swelling is all the way around the ankle
- When the injured area feels cold
- When the pain persists or grows worse after initial onset
- When the ankle looks misshapen
- When over-the-counter pain medications don’t help
- When you can’t move your toes or ankle at all
- When the ankle is injured but feels numb
- When you see bones breaking through the skin
- When the ankle is cold or blue.
An ankle fracture is usually diagnosed with X-ray imaging. This is usually enough to see the fracture, although more sophisticated imaging systems may be used if the fracture is small.
While over-the-counter medication and ice can help the swelling go down in the first 48 hours after injury, an ankle fracture requires rest to heal. It takes four to eight weeks for a broken bone to heal, so that means lots of time with the foot elevated and at rest.
You can rest your ankle by staying in bed, using crutches or a cane or a wheelchair. Often, doctors will place the foot and ankle in a cast in order to stabilize the area. If the ankle is not stabilized, the fracture could simply twist out of position, essentially re-injuring the fracture.
Often compression fractures that result from sudden impact or car accidents require surgery to reconstruct the ankle before stabilization. If so, doctors frequently use metal pins, rods and plates to support the bone while healing takes place.
Make a Call
Let us help you return to an active lifestyle with minimum pain. Call FXRX Orthopaedics and Bracing in Phoenix, Az., at 480-449-FXRX.