The ankle joints play a major role in keeping you mobile and independent. When you are experiencing pain in an ankle following an accident, it could be a sign of a fracture. Since ankle fractures actually have many causes and symptoms in common with ankle sprains, it is important to become familiar with this injury and know when the time is right to come in for a diagnosis and fractured ankle treatment.
The ankle is one of the most valuable areas of the body when it comes to mobility, independence, and your ability to participate in physical activities. It is comprised of three different bones—the tibia, fibula, and talus bones—and two different joints – the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint. The tibia and fibula bones are parts of the lower leg that sit on top of the talus, which sits upon the calcaneus (heel bone). All of these parts are connected with various ligaments that extend from bone to bone.
The true ankle joint is where the lower leg bones meet the talus and controls up-and-down motion. The subtalar joint is where the talus meets the heel bone and is responsible for side-to-side movement.
Types of Fractures and Symptoms to Know
When it comes to a broken bone, there are various types that one might sustain. People generally associate the injury with either a simple or compound fracture. In a simple fracture, the bone is broken (either partially or all the way through) but has not moved and remains in its proper alignment. With a compound fracture, either one or both broken parts have become displaced and do not line up as intended. This may, but does not have to, result in bone puncturing the skin, which then leads to the possibility of infection.
In addition to simple and complex fractures, it is also possible to sustain a stress fracture. In this instance, bone tissue is not generally damaged from a single traumatic experience, but rather as the result of accumulated forces from high-impact activities, like running. A stress fracture is a hairline crack in the surface of the bone.
The primary symptoms of a broken ankle are pain (often immediately felt after the injury), bruising, swelling, tenderness, and difficulty bearing weight and walking. Depending on the severity of the break, there might be deformity in the region. It may also be difficult to take off or put on a shoe of the affected foot.
Ankle Fracture Treatment and Prevention
Effective treatment methods do vary a bit based upon the type and severity of the fracture for every different patient. That said, we will likely recommend or prescribe medication to relieve the pain that accompanies the condition. For less severe breaks, nonsurgical methods like RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) may be sufficient. We would, of course, need to examine your specific injury first, to ensure bones are lined up in their intended fashion.
For complex fractures, surgery may be necessary. This will possibly entail the use of pins, screws, or plates to hold the bones in their proper places during the healing process. In the event of an open fracture—when bone pierces the skin—seek immediate medical help to decrease the risk of infection.
Preventing broken bones can be difficult. Many happen as the result of an unforeseen accident, which is nearly impossible to predict. Even with this being the case, the following methods can help lower the odds of a fractured ankle bone:
- Wear proper shoes that are appropriate for physical activity
- Strengthen ankle muscles to decrease force loads on bone tissue
- Ease into physical activity as a way to decrease the risk of stress fractures
- Cross-train with low-impact activities
- Consume nutrient-rich foods to provide strong bones
- Replace worn-out shoes
Professional Ankle Care When You Need It
Whether you suffer from a broken ankle, a stress fracture, or any of the myriad foot and ankle problems that exist, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle is here to help. We provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans for our patients from Medford, OR and the surrounding communities. Request your appointment with us by calling (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to contact us now.