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All about Broken Ankles
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 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.

Causes of a Broken Ankle

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

Broken Ankle Symptoms

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 even have bruising, and patients with more serious injuries may have 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 nothing else is injured.

Treatment for a Broken Ankle

As with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. 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.

Follow up visits with your doctor will typically be scheduled to check that the broken bone(s) has 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.