What to Do about an Ankle Fracture?
An ankle fracture is a serious orthopedic condition with a variety of causes. This article will help you understand how you can recognize an ankle fracture and the ways you can recover from one.
Causes of Ankle Fractures
The bony part of the ankle is primarily composed of these three bones:
- Tibia: the main lower leg bone that connects into the ankle
- Fibula: a thin lateral bone that runs parallel to the tibia and stabilizes the ankle
- Malleoli: the bony ends of the tibia and fibula that form the connection of the ankle to the foot
If you suffer an accident that strains any of these three parts of the ankle to the point where the bone breaks, then you have suffered an ankle fracture. Common causes of ankle fractures are usually accidents that involve severe pressure, twisting, or rolling of the ankle that leads to fracturing of the bone.
Symptoms of Ankle Fractures
Ankle fractures can cause significant pain and difficulty getting around. The top symptoms associated with ankle fractures include
- Pain around the ankle
- Deformities from the bone being misplaced
- Difficulty walking or putting weight on the injured foot
If you start to notice these symptoms, contact our office immediately before the condition gets worse.
Diagnosing an Ankle Fracture
To diagnose an ankle fracture, a doctor will need to physically examine the injured ankle. They will determine the source of pain and the extent of bruising and swelling around the ankle. You will likely be asked about what caused the injury and whether you can put weight or walk on the injured ankle.
To conclusively diagnose an ankle fracture, the doctor will need to examine an X-ray of the bone to locate the fractured area.
Treatments for an Ankle Fracture
Treating an ankle fracture requires immediate medical attention. In the meantime, you should do the following to reduce the chance of making your injury worse:
- Rest the injured ankle. Don’t put weight on it.
- Keep it elevated above your heart to minimize swelling
- Ice the injured ankle
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
Once you are able to get medical attention, there are a variety of treatments available depending on the nature of your fracture.
To avoid surgery, your doctor may recommend a conservative treatment. This treatment involves the fractured bone being pushed back into alignment through the skin and then stabilized in a plaster cast for several weeks or a month to allow the bone to heal.
In more extreme cases, a surgeon may need to perform an emergency surgery to repair the fractured ankle. The most common emergency surgery in this case is called Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF).
During this two-part procedure, a surgeon will first make an incision along the skin on the surface of the fractured ankle through which they will realign the bone into its normal position. Then, in the internal fixation phase, the surgeon will secure the bone with rods, screws, plates, or pins to allow the bone to heal. You will likely need to wear a cast or splint afterward to stabilize the ankle.
For some cases a minimally invasive open reduction and internal fixation can be performed. This procedure is very similar but requires only several smaller incisions to repair and stabilize the fractured bone instead of a single, larger one, meaning it is less invasive than traditional surgery.
Fractured bone can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to fully heal depending on the extent and severity of the fracture and how quickly you seek treatment.
Medical Attention for Ankle Fractures at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants
At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, our orthopedic specialists and surgeons know how to deal with emergency conditions. We are prepared to treat your ankle fracture with some of the most innovative treatments available.
We know how painful and debilitating an ankle fracture can be. We’ll make sure you’re treated with the best care to get you back up and doing what you love. If you think you may have suffered an ankle fracture, contact us right away.