Fractured or Broken Ankle

Broken Ankle

A broken ankle is also known as an ankle fracture. This occurs when one or more bones that connect the ankle joint are separated into pieces. These bones include the tibia and the fibula (the bones of the lower leg), and the talus (which is below the ankle joint). Most ankle fractures are broken bones in the tibia or fibula, because together they carry the weight of your entire body. Some ankle breaks (stress fracture) will not prevent you from walking, whereas others broken ankles may prevent you from walking for several months. It all depends on how severe the break is and how many bones are affected.

What Causes a Broken or Fractured Ankle?

Broken ankles are usually caused by rolling or twisting the ankle when tripping or falling. They can also occur during impact - such during sports or in a car accident. Broken ankles can affect people of all ages, though they are more common in physically active individuals.

What are the Symptoms of a Fractured/Broken Ankle?

The symptoms of a broken ankle are very similar to ankle sprains. These symptoms include immediate, severe pain, tenderness to the touch, and swelling. Some broken ankle fractures may have bruising and with difficulty putting weight on the affected foot. A proper diagnosis must be made by a medical professional. Your doctor will typically take an X-ray to diagnose a broken ankle and he or she will also evaluate surrounding areas to make sure no ligaments are injured.

Treatment for a Broken Ankle

Treatment depends on the location of the broken bone(s). Most treatment for broken ankle starts with rest, ice, and elevating the foot. These all help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Your doctor will most likely splint the broken bone for the first few days to make sure the bones are properly aligned for healing. Once swelling goes down, your ankle will most likely be placed in a cast, in order to protect it from further injury. As you come out of the cast, your doctor may recommend a walking boot to help you transition to walking. Occasionally, for minor fractures like a stress fracture, your physician will recommend that you wear a medical walking boot to help support the ankle as it heals.

There are a variety of options available when it comes to selecting a walking boot for your broken ankle. Air vs. No Air. Rigid or soft. And whether or not you need a ROM hinge. Your doctor can help you properly select a brace based on the severity of your injury. Some walking boots have 2 aircells, others have 4 and some don't have any. Non-rigid walking boots are generally more comfortable with a soft liner but may not be as protective as a rigid walker. Walkers with aircells may come with an integrated brace or an external hand bulb. Below, we recommend 4 different walking boots.

Aircast XP - This walking boot is rigid with 4 aircells and a hand bulb. Multi-aircells allow for pulsating compression.

Aircast AirSelect Standard - This walker is semi-rigid with 2 adjustable aircells and an integrated pump.

DonJoy Maxtrax Air Ankle - This is a non-rigid walker with one adjustable air cell on each side of the ankle with an integrated pump.

DonJoy Maxtrax Walker - This is a non-rigid, no aircell walking boot recommended for helping stabilize the lower leg.

Follow up visits with your doctor will typically be scheduled to check that the broken bone(s) have not moved out of place. Maintaining alignment of the bones is key to the success of your recovery. Once weight-bearing is allowed, the use of an ankle brace is recommended to support the ankle and provide stability as you return to activity.