Ankle Fractures: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Ankle FracturesAnkle injuries are relatively common. It makes sense since we rely on our feet and ankles to get around, play sports, and do countless other activities.

Many people will suffer from ankle sprains at least once in their lifetime. However, ankle fractures are much more serious, and require immediate medical attention.

The problem is, it's easy to mistake a sprain from a broken ankle. Unfortunately, when this happens many people from New York, and those around the world, may feel compelled to treat it at home, thinking it will heal on its own, which could lead to further injury.

To help avoid this, examine the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a fractured ankle.

Causes of Ankle Fractures

Your ankle is composed of three bones, the tibia, fibula, and the talus. These bones all come together to create the ankle joint.

If too much stress is placed on this joint, you'll end up with an ankle injury. Depending on the impact and resulting stress, you could sustain either a sprain or fracture.

A sprain occurs when the ligaments around your ankle joint tear. If the stress is great enough, you could end up with a broken ankle.

A fracture usually occurs with some sort of rotational, or twisting, injury.  It can also occur if you come down on your ankle with too much force.

Here are some common situations that result in broken ankles.

Sports Injuries

A broken ankle is one of the more common sports injuries athletes sustain. Basketball and tennis players are more at risk due to the type of movement these sports require.

Basketball and tennis involve a lot of jumping and quickly switching directions while running. This means players are likely to come down hard on the ankle joint, causing intense stress. They're also at risk of twisting the ankle joint too far in one direction.

Overuse of the Ankle Joint

Your feet and ankles must support a lot of weight. If you engage in repetitive movement that places constant stress on your ankles, stress fractures can occur.

This happens to long-distance runners but can also occur if your job requires heavy lifting and constant standing.

Falls or Missteps

It's possible to break your ankle by simply falling unexpectedly. If your ankle overextends too much during the fall, you can suffer a break.

It's also common for people to break their ankle when bringing their foot down in the wrong position. This can happen when climbing or descending a flight of stairs, if you work or live in a high rise building in New York, for example.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

After you've fractured your ankle you'll feel intense pain. However, because sprains can result in a very similar sensation, it’s important to look for other symptoms that indicate a break.

After an ankle fracture, you may feel pain in other areas of the foot, possibly even reaching your toes.

In addition to pain, you'll likely notice swelling around the ankle joint. This happens as a result of soft tissue damage, or a buildup of blood around your ankle.

You may also notice bruising. This bruising may extend down the top of your foot toward your toes or around the sole of your foot.

Another possible symptom is numbness, or the inability to move your foot or toes. In severe cases of an open fracture, the bone may protrude through the skin. If this happens, it is vital that you seek medical attention right away, as it could lead to infection.

It's important to remember that if you sustain a minor break, you still may be able to support weight and walk. However, doing so could lead to further injury.

If the break is severe, you won't be able to support weight or walk at all. If this is the case, stay off your feet and seek medical attention right away.

Treatment

If you suspect you've suffered a fracture, a New York orthopedic doctor will need to examine your ankle to determine the extent of the injury. If they think you have sustained a break, they'll need to perform an x-ray.

Before this, however, you'll undergo a physical exam during which the doctor will ask you a number of questions to help determine the severity of the injury.

They'll want to know exactly how the injury occurred and where you're feeling pain. They'll look for bruising, swelling and any deformities in your ankle. All this information will help them make a diagnosis and determine and treatment plan.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If your fracture is minor, there's a chance your doctor can treat the break without surgery. They'll first ask you to stay off your feet and rest your ankle. You'll also need to apply an ice pack on regular basis to help decrease the swelling.

In order to further control the amount of swelling, your doctor may apply an elastic wrap. It's also important to keep your ankle raised to help with inflammation.

Other treatment options include a boot or plaster cast. This helps protect your ankle, so it can heal properly.

Surgical Treatment

If you've sustained a severe fracture, there's a chance the bones have moved and are now out of place. This requires surgery to help reposition the bones, so they heal correctly. Your doctor may need to place metal plates or screws in your ankle joint to help support the bones.

If you've suffered a trimalleolar fracture, in which all three bones that make up the ankle are affected, surgery is a must. You'll also need surgery if you've sustained an open fracture, formally called a compound fracture.

Seek Medical Attention Right Away

If you suffered an injury and suspect you now have a broken ankle, it's important you see a doctor right away. Walking around New York on a broken ankle could result in further injury and severe pain, which could also lead to the need for more extensive treatment.

Orthopedic surgeons are experienced in helping people with ankle fractures regain mobility and the range of motion they once had.

If you've sustained a serious foot or ankle injury, we can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon.