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If you’ve ever had a fractured ankle, you know how painful it is and how long it takes to heal. There are different types of fractures in the ankle, each requiring a different treatment and recovery time. Here is everything you need to know about ankle fractures, from symptoms to when to see a doctor.
How Do I Know if I Have a Fractured Ankle?
If you come down too hard on your ankle, spraining your ankle, your body will let you know. Ankle fractures hurt immediately and quite badly. Often times patients report feeling and even hearing a pop sound. There may also be swelling, bruising, or disfigurement, depending on the types of fractures in the ankle and how you got the injury. Broken ankles are common after ankle sprains, car accidents, jumping off a significant height, or dropping something heavy on your foot.
Types of Fractures in the Ankle
What is the difference between ankle fractures and sprains? It can be difficult to tell the difference without a medical professional diagnosis. This is why it is important to seek medical care for any type of ankle injury that prevents you from walking.
If the ligaments in your ankle have torn, you have sprained your ankle. This injury has many of the same symptoms as a fractured ankle but does not usually take as long to heal. A break in one of your ankle bones is a fracture. Three bones make up the ankle: the tibia, fibula, and talus. Breaks in different bones cause different injuries. The types of fractures in the ankle are:
- Lateral malleolus fracture: a break in the bottom of the fibula where the knob is on the outside of your ankle; most common of the ankle fractures
- Medial malleolus fracture: a fracture in the end of the tibia where the knob is on the inside of your ankle
- Bimalleolar ankle fracture: both knobs of the ankle (tibia and fibula) are broken
- Bimalleolar equivalent fracture: both knobs of the ankle are fractured and ligaments inside the ankle are torn
- Posterior malleolus fracture: break in the back of the tibia
- Trimalleolar fracture: all three parts of the ankle are broken; generally the most severe type of fractured ankle
- Pilon fracture: a fracture in the top of the ankle at the end of the tibia
- Maisonneuve fracture: a sprained ankle along with a break higher up in the fibula near the knee
- Syndesmotic injury: also called a high ankle sprain, a tear in the syndesmosis joint between the tibia and fibula
What Are the Typical Treatments for Ankle Fractures?
Treating your ankle at home for a few days is not an unreasonable response to an injury. Rest, ice, and elevate your foot. If your ankle is not feeling better after a couple of days or if the pain is unbearable even while resting, you probably have a fractured ankle and need to be seen.
When you visit a doctor with a possible fractured ankle, they will check the foot both physically and with x-rays and other scans. Ankle fractures need to be immobilized, which usually involves a cast. Severe ankle fractures, such as those where multiple bones are broken, may require surgery to realign the bones before the cast goes on.
IMPORTANT: If there is any concern that you might have a fracture, it is very important to be seen and evaluated soon after your injury, because in the event that surgical correction must be performed, having surgery within a specific time frame is important to achieve optimal results.
Once your ankle is healed and the cast is removed, you will likely need physical therapy to get the full range of motion back in your ankle. Your doctor may send you to a physical therapist or give you exercises and stretches to do at home.
Need a Diagnosis for a Fractured Ankle?
For all types of fractures in the ankle, turn to Diablo Foot and Ankle for treatment. Call today to schedule an appointment.