An ankle fracture or broken ankle means that one or more bones in the ankle joint are broken. The more ankle bones that are broken, the more difficult it is to walk.
Three bones make up the ankle joint: the tibia (shinbone), the fibular (smaller bone of the lower leg) and the talus (a small bone that sits between the heel bone and the tibia and fibula. An fractured ankle involves the area of bone that is the bump on the inside (tibia) and outside (fibula) of the ankle.
Broken ankles can affect people of every age and can be caused by twisting or rotating your ankle incorrectly, rolling your ankle, tripping or falling or impact during a car accident.
Broken ankle symptoms
- Immediate and severe pain
- Tender to touch
- Cannot put weight on the injured foot
- Severe ankle sprains often feel the same as an ankle fracture
An ankle fracture may not require surgery if the broken bone is not out of place (displaced) or is barely out of place. Nonsurgical treatment options include wearing a high-top tennis shoe or a short leg cast to protect the ankle while it heals. A physician will monitor this treatment option closely to make sure the fractured ankle does not move out of place during the healing process.
Surgical treatment is necessary if the fractured ankle is out of place (displaced). During surgery the bones are repositioned into their normal alignment and are then held in that alignment by stainless steel plates and screws. Hardware removal is rare unless you have a fracture that includes damage to the ligament that holds the tibia to the fibula.
Because there is such a wide variety of broken ankle types there is also a wide variety of how people will heal after their injury. Weight bearing can usually begin around four to six weeks depending on the fracture type. Usually broken bones are healed in six weeks, but it may take longer if a patient has associated medical illnesses such as diabetes etc.
Most people return to normal daily activities, except for sports, within three to four months.