Broken Ankle: What is it?
A painful condition, broken ankles can prevent you from walking and doing many everyday activities. It is different from a sprain, which is the result of ripped or torn ligaments, but no broken bones. A break in the ankle means a fracture in one or more of three bones which connect at the ankle joint: the tibia, fibula, and talus.
In the lower leg, the tibia and fibula link at the knee, and sit on the talus bone, which is part of the foot. The talus bone is protected by a tough layer of connective tissues, which enables movement in the ankle joint.
While a break is a more severe injury than a sprain, a sprain can still be serious. It can cause bruising around the foot and prevent someone from sustaining his or her own weight and standing up, much like a broken ankle would.
Symptoms and Treatment
The symptoms of a broken angle are similar to a sprain, so it is essential that the foot should be X-rayed as soon as possible to determine if it is broken and the severity of the break. Broken ankles will exhibit bruising and swelling around the affected area, and the person will experience sharp, severe pain. The ankle’s instability will also likely prevent it from taking the person’s full weight.
In more severe cases, or cases that have lingered for too long without treatment, other symptoms may manifest, such as deformities of bone around the ankle (or even bones visible outside the skin), inability to move ankle and/or toes, numbness in the ankle, and even cold or blue foot.
The most immediate relief will follow from elevating feet above the head, which reduces blood flow to the injured area. Applying ice packs to the ankles will also help, reducing redness, inflammation, and pain.
After an examination and x-rays, the doctor will determine whether surgery is needed, or just a cast or splint. Some minor ankle fractures do not even require a cast or splint, and can be treated like an ankle sprain.
No matter how minimal or severe the break, the most important thing is to stay off your feet as much possible. Relieving ankles of additional stress and pressure will both speed recovery and ensure better healing.
If you have any concerns about pain in your ankle, make an appointment with your Lansdale foot pain specialist, and we can together determine the best next steps for you. But please do not wait to get treated, because this is a serious condition which can have long-term consequences.
Frederick Foot and Ankle