Topics > Ankle > Broken Ankle
The ankle actually involves two joints, one on top of the other. A
broken ankle can involve one or more bones, as well as the surrounding
connecting tissues (ligaments). Ankle breaks, or fractures, can occur
in many ways, such as by falls, contact sports and exercise injuries,
and force from a blow.
- immediate and severe pain
- a snapping or popping sound at the time of the
- inability to move
- deformity (sometimes)
- discolored skin, or bruising, which appears hours
to days after the injury
you may have an open wound with an ankle fracture
Because a severe
sprain can often mask the symptoms of a broken ankle, every injury to
the ankle should be examined by a physician.
an ankle fracture, your doctor will review your symptoms, ask about how
the injury occurred, and examine you. He or she
will also order
x-rays. Several different views of the bone may be taken to pinpoint
The immediate emergency treatment for a fractured ankle is immobilization
(keeping it from moving), elevation, compression (wrapping it with an
Ace bandage), and icing (RICE).
RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation):
- Rest. Stop using the injured
foot as soon as possible.
- Ice. Ice will help
to reduce swelling and promote recovery during the first 48 hours.
Place ice wrapped in a towel on the injured area for
every 3-4 hours. Do not put ice directly on the skin.
- Compression. An Ace
bandage should be lightly wrapped around the area.
The foot should be elevated on several pillows.
You may need
a cast for 6 to 8 weeks to set the ankle bone in place. If the fracture
is not too severe, you may be able to walk in the cast after
a short period. If the ankle bone cannot be aligned perfectly before
it is ready for a cast, surgery will be necessary.
In the first 2-3 weeks
after the injury, keep your ankle elevated on pillows and place ice packs
on top of the cast for 20 to 30 minutes every 3-4 hours
to help reduce swelling. Also follow these precautions:
- Do not get the cast wet, cover it with plastic
when you bathe.
- Use crutches
or a cane, as instructed by your doctor to minimize putting weight
on the injured leg.
- Do not scratch the skin around the cast or poke
things down the cast.
immobilization in the cast weakens the muscles and you will need recovery
exercises to strengthen the muscles after the cast is taken off.
When recovering from the injury you should also:
- Eat a variety of nutritious
- Get plenty of rest.
- Elevate the leg when possible to reduce any swelling.
Call your doctor
immediately if you notice:
- Increased swelling above or
below the fracture.
- Grey or blue discoloration
of your toenails even when your leg is elevated.
or complete loss of feeling in the skin below the fracture.
pain under the cast, or increasing pain not helped by elevation or
- Burning pain under the cast.
- Wear proper shoes that fit correctly when you exercise.
- Gently stretch
before and after impact physical activities such as aerobics, running,
- Avoid playing recreational sports when you are fatigued.