Ankle injuries are amongst the most common injuries seen. An ankle fracture is a break in one or more bones that make up the ankle joint. Sometimes ligaments may also be damaged. Ankle fractures are most often caused by motor vehicle accidents, rolling or twisting of the ankle and by tripping or falling. People participating in sports such as basketball, rugby, soccer and skiing are at a high risk of developing ankle fractures.
Common symptoms of an ankle fracture include pain and swelling around the ankle, bruising, tenderness to touch, inability to walk on the leg and deformity if the ankle is dislocated.
Following an ankle injury it is important to have the ankle evaluated by your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is made based on the history of injury and physical examination of the ankle. In addition, the surgeon may order x-rays of the ankle to determine the extent of the injury.
Treatment varies with the type and severity of the injury. The common method of treatment of ankle fractures is adequate rest, ice application, leg elevation and medications to reduce swelling and pain. A short leg cast or brace may be applied over the fractured ankle to provide support. If there is severe injury, excessive swelling or severe pain, you should seek immediate medical treatment.
Some ankle fractures are treated with a splint, which is placed on the ankle for a few days until the swelling subsides. Once the swelling decreases a cast may be placed on the ankle to hold the broken bone in a specific place. Surgery may be needed to realign the bones before placing the splint. During surgery, your doctor may place metal screws, plates or rods to hold the broken bone intact until healing occurs. In some cases crutches may be used to prevent the ankle from bearing weight.