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What are ankle fractures and what causes them?

Ankle fractures are a type of injury that can occur when the bones in your ankle are fractured (or broken). This type of injury is usually caused by a fall, twisting motion, or direct impact to the ankle.

These are the three bones that make up the ankle joint – the fibula, tibia, and talus, and they can be fractured in different ways.

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The most common type of fracture is a displaced fracture, which means that the bone has broken into two or more pieces.

Symptoms of a fractured ankle

Symptoms of a fractured ankle may include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the affected foot.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

Treatment of ankle fractures

Treatment for a fractured ankle will depend on the type of fracture you have.

For a large number of fractures, treatment will involve wearing a cast or splint for several weeks to immobilize the ankle and allow it to heal. You may also need crutches to help you stay mobile.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the fractured bone if you have an unstable ankle fracture. Types of surgery for ankle fractures include:

Open reduction and internal fixation: This type of surgery is used to realign the fractured bones and hold them in place with screws, plates, or wires.

Occasionally, patients can suffer from arthritis after an ankle fracture (termed: post-traumatic arthritis). Orthopedic stem cells can be used to help protect this process from occurring.

Recovery time for a fractured ankle

Most people who have fractured their ankle will need to wear a cast or splint for four to six weeks.

After your ankle has healed, you will likely need to participate in physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion in your ankle.

Recovery time for ankle fractures can vary, but most people make a full recovery within three to four months.

Prevention tips for ankle fractures

There are several things you can do to help prevent a fractured ankle.

Wear proper shoes: This is especially important if you participate in activities that put stress on your ankles, such as running and playing sports such as basketball or tennis.

Be careful on slippery surfaces: When walking on wet surfaces, take extra care to avoid falls.

Don’t walk while using your phone: Walking while using your phone can lead to distracted walking, which increases your risk of falling and sustaining an ankle injury. A lot of ankle injuries occur from stepping off of a curb the wrong way.
Build up bone strength: This can be done by participating in weight-bearing activities and eating a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D.

If you have any risk factors for ankle fractures, such as osteoporosis, talk to an orthopedic specialist about ways to reduce your risk or to obtain a DEXA scan.

I hope this information has been helpful. Fractured ankles can be painful and disruptive, but with the proper treatment, you can make a solid recovery.