A fracture is a complete or partial break in a bone. When the ankle is involved, the fractures can occur in the distal ends of the tibia, fibula or both bones. The tibia is positioned on the interior or medial side of the leg. As for the fibula, it is positioned on the exterior or lateral side of the leg.
In some distal tibia fractures, it can involve the posterior region of the bone. Remember that ankle fractures can range from minor avulsion injuries to severe injuries involving shattered bones pieces. Some types of fractures can also involve injuries to vital ankle ligaments that keep the ankle in its normal position. Ankle fractures are typically caused by twisting of the ankle inwards or outwards.
Symptoms of ankle fracture
- Pain at the fracture site that can extend from the foot to the knee
- Swelling that can occur along the length of the leg or localized in the ankle
- Development of blisters over the fracture site
- Reduced ability to walk
- Bone appears to protrude through the skin
One or all of these symptoms can occur when an individual sustained an ankle fracture. In most cases, a fracture is managed in the emergency department or doctor’s clinic. An X-ray of the injured ankle is taken to determine the appearance of the fracture, bones that are broken, degree of displacement and the overall condition of the bone.
When an ankle fracture is suspected, there are treatment options to manage this injury.
Application of ice and elevation
Swelling often occurs after sustaining an ankle fracture. By reducing the degree of swelling, the pain is also reduced as well as minimize further damage to the surrounding soft tissues can be prevented. Elevation of the ankle and the application of ice over the affected area can reduce the swelling.
In most cases, a splint can be applied to support the injured ankle. The splint will stay in place for several days. The splint will allow room in order to accommodate the swelling. In case the ankle is not displaced, the splint can be applied right away without moving the broken ankle.
If the bones are displaced or the joint is dislocated, closed reduction is carried out while the splint is placed.
Many individuals need to rest for some time without bearing weight on the ankle. Walkers, crutches and wheelchairs will allow the individual to keep weight off the ankle. The type of ankle fracture will determine when the individual can start to stand and walk using the injured ankle.
Immobilization with a cast or fracture boot
Some cases of ankle fractures can be managed without surgery such as instances in which one bone is minimally displaced. These fractures can be managed with a period of immobilization. Once the swelling starts to improve, a fracture boot or cast can be applied to the ankle to protect and immobilize it. These can provide adequate protection to the ankle.