Ankle Fractures: What Are My Treatment Options?
Breaking your ankle can mean an extreme loss in mobility. Typically with ankle fractures one or more of the bones in the ankle joint are broken. The more bones you break the more weak and unstable the ankle can be. A fractured ankle can mean a break in one bone or a several breaks, which pushes your ankle out of place. Multiple breaks can make it difficult to walk because no weight can be placed on the joint. Knowing how your ankle is structure can make it easier to understand treatment options.
The Tibia, Fibula and Talus all work to make up the ankle joint. Each bone works in a different way to stabilize the ankle and provide support for the body. Doctors classify the severity of a fracture by determining which areas of the bones are broken. Two joints are involved in an ankle fracture. The ankle joint is one, which is where the tibia, fibula and talus meet. The syndesmosis joint is located between the tibia and fibula, which is held together by ligaments. These ligaments help stabilize the ankle joint.
How Fractures Happen and The Symptoms
There are a number of ways you can fracture your ankle. A common method of fracture is twisting or rotating your ankle. Rolling your ankle also can lead to a break. Unsupported trips or falls can cause a fracture. A strong or unexpected impact to the ankle can also be the cause. Whenever you feel pain in your ankle have it examined by an experienced physician. Symptoms can be similar to a sprain and lead to self-misdiagnosis. Side effects of a fracture include immediate and severe pain, swelling, bruising and not being able to put weight on the injured foot. The ankle can also be deformed or misshapen.
There are a number of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for ankle fractures, and your options depend on the severity and location of the break. A stress X-ray can be done to see the if the fracture and ankle are stable. You may not have to have surgery if the ankle is stable, which means the broken bone is not out of place or barely out of place. Some physicians recommend a high top tennis shoe or a short leg cast as a method of treatment.
Surgical options vary on the type of fracture. Depending on the fracture, the fragments of bone can be fixed using screws, a plate or other wiring methods. The location of the fracture will determine whether screws or plates are placed along the front or back of the ankle. Screws and plates can also be place along the shinbone.
It will take at least 6 weeks for a fracture to heal and possible longer if ligaments were damaged. You’ll most likely have to visit your physician multiple times after your first consultation so they can monitor the bone healing. You can expect to return to normal activities quickly, but exercises and sports will take 3 to 4 months to be safe.