An ankle fracture is a break of a bone in the ankle joint. The joint is made up of three bones:
The ankle joint is supported by three groups of ligaments. An injury that causes a fracture may also damage one or more of these ligaments.
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An ankle fracture can occur when the joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. It can also be caused by a direct blow to the bone itself. Any form of ankle trauma may cause injury, including:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury. Risk factors include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. An examination of the injured area will be done.
Tests may include x-rays to look for the broken bone.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment includes:
Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:
Your doctor may prescribe pain medication. They will order more x-rays while the bone heals to ensure that the bones have not shifted position.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to help you with these exercises. Do not return to sports activity until your doctor says your ankle is fully healed. You will need near-normal motion and muscle strength.
It takes at least 6-8 weeks for even a simple ankle fracture to heal. It will be several months before you can return to intense physical activity.
To help prevent ankle fractures:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Ankle fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00391 . Updated September 2007. Accessed November 5, 2012.
Broken Ankle. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society website. Available at: http://www.aofas.o... . Accessed November 5, 2012.
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.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013