What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- What kind of ankle fracture do I have?
- Do I have to have surgery?
- Will I need to wear a cast or a brace?
- Will I need to have physical therapy?
- How soon can I put weight on my injured ankle?
- When can I play sports?
- How long before my ankle is completely healed?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It’s important to remember you can re-injure your broken ankle if you move too quickly to resume activities. You might get frustrated or anxious waiting for your ankle to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. They will have suggestions and recommendations about programs and services that might help you.
Treatments For A Broken Ankle
You’ll usually have an X-ray to check if your ankle is broken and see how bad the break is.
If you have a very minor break, you may not need any treatment.
For a more serious break, you may need:
- a special boot to help support your ankle
- a plaster cast to hold your ankle in place while it heals
- the bones to be moved back into place by a doctor
- surgery to fix the broken bones
You’ll usually have follow-up appointments to check your ankle is healing properly.
How Long Does It Take To Heal From A Broken Ankle
It takes at least 6 weeks for the broken bones to heal. It may take longer for the involved ligaments and tendons to heal. As mentioned above, your doctor will most likely monitor the bone healing with repeated x-rays. This is typically done more often during the first 6 weeks if surgery is not chosen.
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What Is The Recovery Time Of A Broken Ankle
It takes about six weeks for bones to heal. It may take longer for ligaments or other soft tissues to heal as well.
After surgery, patients are typically not weightbearing for 4 to 6 weeks until the bone heals. Patients are placed on a pain management protocol that minimizes their need for opioid medications. For the first couple of weeks, patients are in a splint and are elevating the limb 90% of the day. After 10 to 14 days, the sutures are removed and patients are typically placed into a removable boot. This allows patients to start moving the ankle and to shower. At the six-week visit, X-rays are obtained. Assuming the bone is healed well, patients are then allowed to start weightbearing and to begin physical therapy. Patients will generally have six weeks of therapy or more if required.
What Is A Fracture
A fracture is the same thing as a “break.” Much like sprains, breaks can vary from hairline fractures that only involve one bone to multiple, compound fractures that keep you off your foot for months. Like sprains, fractures usually happen because of extreme force on the bone, either from a fall, auto accident, or other acute-force trauma.
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What Are The Complications With Ankle Fracture Surgery
Complications can include:
- Acute compartment syndrome : In this syndrome, pressure building in your muscles keeps your blood from getting to your muscles and tissues. ACS can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage.
- Malunion: This is when your broken bones don’t line up so they can heal correctly.
- Bone infection : This happens if you have an open fracture. An open fracture is where your bone breaks through your skin, creating the risk of bacterial infection.
- Nerve or blood vessel damage: An ankle fracture can damage nerves and blood vessels.
What Is An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain is a ligament injury that occurs when the ligament is stretched or twisted into an awkward position, like stepping in a hole or missing a step. The ankle is the most common location for a sprain, and the severity ranges from Grade 1, which includes only a light stretch or tear, to Grade 3, which is a complete tear that may require a cast or even surgery.
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Symptoms Of A Sprained Ankle
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments holding the bones of the ankle joint together are injured or torn. Sprains often occur when the ankle is twisted or overextended past its natural range of motion, such as when you roll your ankle, stretching the ligaments to the point of tearing.
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
If you think you may have sustained an ankle sprain, its important to seek diagnosis as soon as possible. Your orthopaedic specialist will determine the severity of the sprain and the best course of treatment.
Treatments for an ankle sprain include:
How Soon Can I Go Back To Work Or School
An ankle fracture affects your quality of life, regardless whether or not you had surgery. There are several things to consider before you go back to work/school:
If you didn’t need surgery:
- You’ll be in a cast or walking boot, which could make it difficult for you to get around at work or school.
- You might be taking medication for pain that could affect your ability to work or go to school.
- You might not be able to drive until your ankle is strong enough to control your vehicle brake and accelerator.
If you had surgery:
- You’ll have to keep your injured ankle elevated for at least two weeks after your surgery.
- You won’t be able to put weight on your injured ankle for six weeks after surgery.
- Once you can put weight on your ankle, youll be in a cast or walking boot, which could make it difficult for you to get around at work or at school.
- You might be taking medication for pain that could affect your ability to work or go to school.
- You won’t be able to drive until your ankle is strong enough to control your vehicle brake and accelerator.
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Broken Ankle Vs Sprained Ankle: When To Call Your Doctor
Ankle sprains and breaks are common among athletes and weekend warriors however, ankle injuries can affect people of all ages and activity levels. If it happens to you, learn how to spot the differences between a broken ankle vs. a sprained ankle and know when you should call your doctor.
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments that join the bones of the ankle. Ankle sprains are usually caused by tripping or falling, landing awkwardly after a jump, a sudden impact, or twisting or rolling the ankle. Sprains can be mild to severe.
There are three bones in the ankle jointthe tibia, fibula and talusan injury can cause one or more of these bones break, or fracture. Ankle fractures can be milder, like a small crack, or severe, with bones shattering and piercing through the skin. A person with a broken ankle also often has damage to the ligaments as well.
Is it a broken ankle or sprained ankle?
Its difficult to tell the difference between an ankle sprain and an ankle fracture. Its especially difficult to tell the difference between a severe ankle sprain and a broken ankle. The symptoms for a sprained ankle and a broken ankle are very similar and include:
- Inability to bear weight on the injured ankle
Its most likely a sprained ankle if
If you can put weight on your ankle after the injury and youre experiencing mild to moderate pain, it is most likely a sprain. Follow RICE Guidelines, which include:
Its most likely a broken ankle if
Treatment For A Sprain
Itâs usually less involved when you are healing from a sprain. Most sprains will clear up on their own.
And your doctor may advise you to try the âRICEâ method to ease your inflammation:
You may need physical therapy for a moderate sprain. You should start range of motion exercises once the pain and swelling subside. Surgery is usually for severe cases when other treatments have failed.
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What Happens During Orif Surgery For An Ankle Fracture
- Your surgeon makes incisions to open your ankle joint to access your broken ankle bones.
- They line up your ankle’s broken pieces. This is called reduction.
- Your surgeon uses tools such as metal plates, screws or wires to connect your ankle’s broken pieces. This is calledinternal fixation.
- They close the incision.
- Your surgeon will put your ankle in a cast or brace.
Whats A Sprain And Whats A Break
If youre like many, you may not know what the difference is between a sprain and a break.
In our bodies, our bones and our joints are connected by fibrous tissue called ligaments. When these ligaments stretch out or even tear, this results in a sprain. Fairly common sites for sprains are the wrist, your thumbs, your knees, and most commonly, your ankles.
Breaks although seemingly similar can get a little confusing due to differing terminology. Sometimes youll hear the term fracture or crack when discussing broken bones. So which is it?
Its whichever one you like using more. Whether you call it a break, a crack, or a fracture, its all the same. This is because they all refer to interruptions within the structure of the bone.
Sprains are definitely the preferred option because breakages can lead to potential surgeries, casts, and depending on the severity, future medical issues. Breaks are also just more complicated seeing as how there are different types of breaks, but should you break something, your doctors will be the ones figuring that out.
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Can An Ankle Sprain Cause A Broken Ankle
A sprained ankle happens when you stretch or damage your ankle ligaments through overuse or injury. Think of a piece of elastic thats been through one too many cycles in the washer and dryer. You can have an ankle sprain because you have a broken ankle, but a sprained ankle won’t cause your ankle to break.
Most Common Ankle Fractures
As the number of fracture lines increase, so does the risk of long-term joint damage. Trimalleolar ankle fractures and pilon fractures have the most cartilage injury and, therefore, have a higher risk of arthritis in the future.
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Is My Ankle Sprained Or Broken
The ankle is a large and complicated joint made up of three bones: the tibia , fibula and talus that allow the foot to move up-and-down and side-to-side. All these moving parts make it one of the most commonly injured parts of the human body, with over 2 million ankle sprains and approximately 187 fractures per 100,000 people each year in the United States.
Even the most sure-footed among us can be caught off guard or lose their balance sometimes. But how can you tell a sprained ankle vs. broken ankle?
Broken Ankle Recovery Tips
During recovery, its important to follow your doctors recommendations. This will help your broken ankle heal properly. Heres what you can do to ensure a smooth recovery:
- Avoid pressure. Try not to use your injured foot. When you walk or move, dont apply weight on your ankle until your doctor allows you to do so.
- Rest. Dont carry heavy items or play sports. If you need to go somewhere, ask family or friends. Your doctor will tell you when its safe to use your ankle.
- Physical therapy. When your bones start to heal, your doctor might have you do physical therapy. A physical therapist can show you how to exercise your ankle. These moves will strengthen the ankle bones.
- Eat healthy. Like all injuries, a broken ankle needs enough nutrients to heal. Eating a balanced diet will support recovery.
- If you smoke, consider quitting.Smoking slows down bone healing. Cigarette smoke has ingredients that disrupt your bodys ability to make new bone tissue. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but a doctor can help you create a smoking cessation plan right for you.
- Attend follow-up appointments. During recovery, visit the doctor regularly. Theyll need to check that your bone is healing correctly.
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Caring For The Foot At Home
How To Know If Your Ankle Is Broken
If you sustain an injury to your ankle and wonder whether it is broken or not, you should remain calm and assess your symptoms. A broken ankle is quite painful, especially when you try to move it or put weight on it. The ankle is usually swollen from blood or fluid accumulating at the site of injury and it may be discolored or bruised. Less common symptoms of a broken ankle can be feeling a numb or tingling sensation and/or what is called crepitus or a feeling of bone grinding on bone when the ankle is manipulated. Beyond a bone sticking out of the flesh, the only way to know for sure if you have a broken ankle is to obtain an X-ray or bone scan. If the ankle is broken, these diagnostic tests will show that something is out of place. A CT scan or MRI may be ordered to determine the severity of the break. It is vital to see a podiatrist if you have injured your ankle as this professional can order the appropriate test and proceed to treat the fracture or whatever condition might be identified.
Broken ankles need immediate treatment. If you are seeking treatment, contact Donald Harrison, DPM from Foot and Ankle Institute of Maryland. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.
Broken Ankles A broken ankle is experienced when a person fractures their tibia or fibula in the lower leg and ankle area. Both of these bones are attached at the bottom of the leg and combine to form what we know to be our ankle.
Symptoms of a Fractured Ankle
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What Does A Diagnosis Involve
Its important to get medical attention if you think you may have broken your ankle, or if you have severe pain, swelling, or bruising after injuring your ankle.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will carefully examine your ankle, foot, and lower part of your leg. Theyll also check for tenderness and move your foot to get an idea of how well you can move your ankle joint.
If your injury is more severe, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging tests to help them accurately diagnose your injury:
Even though the symptoms of a sprained and broken ankle are similar, the treatments are quite different.
Can A Broken Bone Heal In 4 Weeks
Most fractures heal in 6-8 weeks, but this varies tremendously from bone to bone and in each person based on many of the factors discussed above. Hand and wrist fractures often heal in 4-6 weeks whereas a tibia fracture may take 20 weeks or more. Healing time for fractures are divided into three phases: 1.
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