A broken or fractured ankle is an injury to the bone. You may experience a broken ankle from a twisting injury from a simple misstep or fall, or from direct trauma during a car crash, for example.
The seriousness of a broken ankle varies. Fractures can range from tiny cracks in your bones to breaks that pierce your skin.
Treatment for a broken ankle depends on the exact site and severity of the bone fracture. A severely broken ankle may require surgery to implant plates, rods or screws into the broken bone to maintain proper position during healing.
If you have a broken ankle, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
Immediate, throbbing pain
Difficulty or pain with walking or bearing weight
A broken ankle is usually a result of a twisting injury, but can also be caused by a direct blow to the ankle.
The most common causes of a broken ankle include:
The crushing injuries common in car accidents may cause breaks that require surgical repair.
Tripping and falling can break bones in your ankles, as can landing on your feet after jumping down from just a slight height.
Sometimes just putting your foot down wrong can result in a twisting injury that can cause a broken bone.
Treatments for a broken ankle will vary, depending on which bone has been broken and the severity of the injury.
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
After your bone has healed, you'll probably need to loosen up stiff muscles and ligaments in your ankles and feet. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to improve your flexibility, balance and strength.
If you have a displaced fracture, meaning the two ends of the fracture are not aligned well, your doctor may need to manipulate the pieces back into their proper positions. This process is called reduction. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling you have, you may need a muscle relaxant, a sedative or a local anesthetic to numb the area before this procedure.
A broken bone must be immobilized so that it can heal. In most cases, this requires a special boot or a cast.
In some cases, an orthopedic surgeon may need to use pins, plates or screws to maintain proper position of your bones during healing. These materials may be removed after the fracture has healed if they are prominent or painful.
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