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.
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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:
- A motor vehicle accident
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
Problems may be:
- Ankle pain
- Bruising and swelling
- Problems putting weight on the foot
- Problems walking
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. You will be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect a break based on exam.
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
Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may prevent some falls. This may be done through diet and exercise.
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Ankle fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/ankle-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Ankle fractures (broken ankle). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00391. Accessed December 9, 2020.
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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 Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com/management/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 January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated:1/5/2021