Ankle Conditions: Broken Ankle, what you need to know

Updated 8/21/2018
Dr. Baravarian discusses  ankle fractures, their treatment and way to avoid complications.

The ankle bone consists of three bones (tibia, fibula and talus) and if any of these bones fracture, you have what is considered a broken ankle If only the ligaments give way, you then have a sprained ankle.

 

Ankle fractures are one of the most under-treated orthopedic conditions today leading to an alarming increase in early onset ankle instability and arthritis. So getting the right diagnosis along with proper and timely care can make all the difference in your outcome.

 

Using the most advanced techniques, some of which we helped develop, awards us the  highest success rated in the nation. Our goal is to quickly get you back on your feet, utilizing the least invasive treatments possible.

Symptoms of a Broken Ankle

Determining proper treatment early can avoid most long-term ankle issues, including arthritis. When it comes to your ankle, it is better to be safe now, than sorry later.

 

Non-surgical Treatments for a Broken Ankle

Ankle fractures that don’t have gapping or angulations/rotation at the fracture site are usually treated with cast and in indicated, physical therapy. These usually do not require surgery. 

The patient is typically placed on crutches for about 6 weeks, which is followed by physical therapy and protection in a brace for 6 more weeks. Doctors often prescribe the RICE treatment, which is:

 

Rest

Stay off the ankle as much as possible to prevent further injury

 

Ice and Compression 

Cold compresses are most effective the first 24 hours after the injury

 

Elevation

To help limit swelling

 

Surgical Treatment Options for a Broken Ankle

Ankle fractures often require surgery to replace the fractured pieces to normal anatomic alignment and put the ankle joint in the correct position. There are several reasons why an ankle fracture will require surgery. If the fracture is displaced or angulated, and the ankle joint is no longer aligned, surgery is required to realign the ankle joint. It is essential to align the ankle fracture to within 2 millimeters of original position for optimal long-term results. Ankle fractures involving joint cartilage can lead to arthritis in the joint. It is especially important that ankle fractures are reduced to return the anatomy to its normal position and alignment.

 

Ankle fractures will also require surgery if the ankle is broken in several places (called a bi-malleolar or tri-malleolar fracture). These types of ankle fractures are very unstable, and will require surgery to stabilize the joint. If these injuries are not stabilized with surgery, the bones will likely shift, causing a malalignment of the joint, which may lead to post-traumatic arthritis in the ankle.

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