Ankle Fracture Treatment, Symptoms | Ankle Bone Fracture Surgery | Fractured Ankle Healing Time, Recovery, Causes and Complications
Overview of Ankle Fracture
Among joint injuries, ankle fractures are one of the most common. If you are unable to walk because of ankle sprain and the pain is almost unbearable, the common notion is that a bone in your ankle might have been broken. Your option is to visit your doctor for an x-ray.
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a sprain and an ankle fracture because they have very similar symptoms. Only the complete diagnosis of the doctor and the result of the x-ray will clearly reveal the real score in your ankle. The joint of the ankle is composed of 3 bones that are joined together by ligaments. These bones are the tibia or the lower leg, the fibula or the small bone that is parallel to the tibia, and the malleoli. These three bones complete the bony composition of the ankle and if any of them has a fracture, an ankle fracture occurs.
Types of Ankle Fractures
Technically speaking, there can be three classifications of ankle fractures and they can differ according to the bones they are associated with. These types are the following:
• Type A ankle fracture is the fracture that occurs between the joints of tibia, the fibula, and the ankle joint. Because all three joints are affected, the fracture may not be severe so some doctors consider this as a sprain issue. However, since it still might have a hidden fracture because the x-ray is unable to reveal, the ankle can be subjected to casting.
• Type B fracture. This is the fracture where the fibula that is joined by the connective tissues of the ankle is affected the most. When connective tissues are damaged due to heavy fracture, reconstructive surgery may be the only procedure needed to correct the damage.
• Type C ankle fracture is considered a very unstable case of foot fracture. The breakage occurs at the fibula adjacent to the points of the tibia and if bones in the ankle are fractured and fragmented, surgery may be required.
The purpose of the diagnosis is for the doctor to evaluate and determine if you really have a fracture in your ankle. If there is joint instability, this can strongly suggest you must either have multiple fractures, injury on the ankle and ligaments or just an injury to the ligament. The doctor will also ask you many questions with regard to the occurrence and history of the injured ankle and then will perform physical exam to find evidence that may relate to the injury. X-rays will confirm his diagnosis and then he will go for the next procedure.
An ankle fracture usually happens when the ankle joint goes beyond its normal strength and tension that its elements break and cause a tear to the ligaments. There are also other causes such as the ones stated below:
• If the ligaments were torn because the foot was twisted, the injury could be a sprain.
• If the bone could not handle the tension and broke this will give you an ankle fracture.
• If there are simultaneous tears on the ligaments and at the same time fractures happen, you can have both a torn ligament with a broken ankle.
Ankle Fracture Symptoms:
Generally, a broken and injured ankle can be easily distinguished by the following signs and symptoms:
• There is pain and usually the pain does not emanate from the injured part itself but around it.
• You cannot walk at ease and the pain aggravates as soon as the foot touches the ground.
• Swelling occurs around the ankle and this may mean there is already damage to the soft tissues and blood and fluids are now congregating on the damaged area.
• Bruises of black and blue on the joint area will appear.
• For severe fractures, you will see deformities around the fractured area and there can be stretching of the skin where the bone breaks. In some cases bones may also protrude from the skin.
• The pain is sometimes accompanied by numbness in the ankle and you cannot freely move your foot or your toes.
Ankle Fracture Treatment
If you think there is a high probability of a fracture then you should call the emergency hotline or ask someone to take you to the hospital. Keep the injured ankle elevated to decrease the pressure and swelling while you are on your way to the hospital. Use cold packs to the area but do not apply the ice directly to the skin. Ask for pain reliever like ibuprofen. Also, better put two pillows on the sides of your foot and sandwich your foot with these and bandage them to prevent further injury.
If there is only a slight fracture and torn ligament as it will be shown by the x-ray, the doctor may treat your injury as a sprain and will place a splint on your foot for about two weeks until swelling goes away. During this time, you will be given pain relievers. However, if the bones are misaligned completely, you would need an immediate operation especially if bones have broken through the skin already. This is what we call a compound fracture and this is a serious case of ankle fracture. If the bones are severely shattered, pins and screws may be used to reattach the bones. You will need to be placed in a cast afterwards or you may or may not be subjected to non-bearing weight depending on the doctor’s recommendation. Therapy usually followed after the cast is removed.
Usually ankle fractures are the result of accidents or falls so if you are into any activity that requires the heavy use of your foot then it is better to wear proper footwear for the occasion. Motorcycle accidents, skiing, roller skating and sports that require the use of the legs and foot balance always put the ankle at risk of getting fractured so you better take all the precautions not to injure your ankle.
When to Call A Doctor
Once the pain becomes almost intolerable even after taking pain relievers then this indicates that there is an internal damage in the ankle. It would be better to consult a doctor who can conduct a diagnosis on your foot. Emergency cases such as deformities, bone protrusion, numbness, and inability of the foot to move are obvious signs that you must be brought to the emergency room for immediate medical attention.