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Definition

An ankle fracture is a break of a bone in the ankle joint. The joint is made up of 3 bones. The ligaments that support the ankle may also be damaged.

Ankle Fracture
ankle fracture

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Causes

The most common cause is when the joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. It may be also be caused by trauma from:

  • Falls
  • Twists
  • Blows
  • A motor vehicle accident

Risk Factors

Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Playing some sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing
  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Ankle pain
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Problems putting weight on the foot
  • Problems walking

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your ankle.

Images may be taken of your ankle. This can be done with x-rays or a CT scan.

Treatment

It may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • A cast to prevent the ankle from moving as it heals
  • Crutches to take weight off of the ankle as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion

Putting Bones Back In Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—a plate, screws, or rod may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may prevent some falls. This may be done through diet and exercise.

RESOURCES:

American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
http://www.aofas.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association
http://www.foothealth.ca

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Ankle fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/ankle-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed December 9, 2019.

Ankle fractures (broken ankle). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00391. Updated March 2013. Accessed December 9, 2019.

Chaudhry S, Egol KA. Ankle injuries and fractures in the obese patient. Orthop Clin North Am. 2011;42(1):45-53.

Scott AM. Diagnosis and treatment of ankle fractures. Radiol Technol. 2010;81(5):457-475.

Wedmore I, Young S, et al. Emergency department evaluation and management of foot and ankle pain. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2015 May;33(2):363-396.

9/10/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T903791/Ankle-fracture-emergency-management: Mosher TJ, Kransdorf MJ, et al. ACR Appropriateness Criteria acute trauma to the ankle online publication]. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology (ACR);2014. 10 p. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=48284#Section420. Accessed September 10, 2014.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS  Last Updated: 12/9/2019