Ankle Fracture: Overview
The three ankle bones are: tibia (shin bone)
the main bone of the lower leg that runs along the inside of the leg
the smaller bone of the lower leg that runs along the outside of the leg
talus (ankle bone)
the bone that provides the connection between the leg and the foot
The ankle joint is supported by three groups of ligaments, which provide
stability to the joint. A fracture can injure these ligaments as well.
An ankle fracture can occur when the joint is forced beyond its normal range
of motion or there is a direct blow to the bone itself. This is caused by
trauma to the joint. Trauma includes:
You may increase your chance of suffering an ankle fracture if you have
any of these risk factors:
decreased muscle mass
participation in certain sports, such as basketball, football, soccer
Symptoms of ankle fractures include: immediate and severe pain
bruising around the injured area
tenderness when touching the ankle area
inability to put weight on the injured foot without pain
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the
injury occurred. The doctor will also examine the injured area. Tests
X-rays use radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body,
especially bones. It is used to look for a break in the bone.
This is a scan that involves injecting a bone-seeking nuclide into a vein
and then performing a scan of the area. The test locates places in the
bone where unusual amounts of bone repair activity are occurring.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment involves:
putting the pieces of the bone back into position, which may require
anaesthesia and/or surgery
keeping the pieces together while the bone heals itself
Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:
a cast (may be used with or without surgery)
a metal plate with screws (requires surgery)
screws alone (requires surgery)
a rod down the middle of the bone (requires surgery)
The doctor may prescribe pain medication depending on the level of pain.
Your doctor will order more x-rays while the bone heals to ensure that the
bones have not shifted position.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening
exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with
these exercises. Do not return to sports activity until your ankle is fully
healed. It takes at least six to eight weeks for even a simple ankle fracture
to heal. It will be several months before you can return to intense physical
Prevention Do not put yourself at risk for a trauma to the ankle.
Eat a diet rich in calcium (pdf file) and vitamin D.
Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
Build strong muscles to prevent falls and to stay active and agile.
To help prevent ankle fractures: