Ankle Fracture/Broken ankle
The ankle joint is made up of three bones; the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (small bone on the outside of the ankle) and the talus (the bone in the foot just below the tibia). The three bones are held together by a number of ligaments that allow movement of the ankle.
Ankle fracture refers to one or more of these three bones being separated or broken. The more bones that are broken, the less stable the ankle becomes. This is even more so if the ligaments are damaged as well.
Fractures can be caused by a simple twist of the ankle or involve high trauma. The ankle will be painful, swollen and you may have difficulty putting any weight through it.
A fractured ankle can be a simple break in one bone, which may not hinder walking, to complex fractures that require open fixation and may require non weight bearing for many weeks.
Your doctor will examine your ankle and identify where the pain is coming from. X-rays will often be required to diagnose the fracture. Sometimes special scans are required to identify the extent of the fracture or identify ligament injuries.
Simple fractures can often be treated with a supportive boot or a below knee cast. Some simple fractures can be walked on in these.
More complex fractures will require open fixation (ORIF) and a period of non-weight bearing.
Ankle sprains/ligament injuries RARELY require operative management. Most are treated with simple measures and patients are encouraged to begin walking early on. A brace or splint may help with pain, swelling and mobility.