What is an ankle fracture, or a broken ankle?
An ankle fracture, or broken ankle, is the result of an injury to one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint. An ankle fracture may be the result of falling or tripping, stepping improperly and “rolling” the ankle, playing sports. Ankle fractures can also be caused by a car accident or a direct blow to the ankle.
The ankle consists of three bones, the tibia (shinbone), fibula (lower leg) and talus; a small bone that sits under the ends of the tibia and fibula, and over the heel bone, serving as the connection between the leg and the foot. The severity of an ankle fracture depends on the number of bones broken in the ankle If no bones are broken as a result of an injury, a sprain (injury to the tendons and soft tissues), rather than a fracture (injury to the bone) may have occurred. Depending on the severity of the ankle injury, non-surgical options, may be used, or if the ankle requires repair, a surgical option may be used instead. Dr. Ronak Mukesh Patel, orthopedic ankle specialist, treats patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area, who have experienced an ankle injury or an ankle fracture.
What are the symptoms of a broken ankle?
Patients who have an ankle fracture often experience the following symptoms:
- Immediate pain upon injury
- Ankle swelling
- Ankle bruising
- Ankle is tender to the touch
- Numbness or circulation problems
- Difficulty/pain when applying weight on the foot
- Deformity or bone piercing through the skin
How are ankle fractures diagnosed?
To determine whether the ankle is sprained, or fractured, Dr. Patel will obtain a thorough patient history, perform a physical examination, and go through a variety of diagnostic tests. The diagnostic tests may include one or more of the following:
- Physical exam
- X-ray: x-rays can show the severity of the break in the bone (s)
- MRI: MRIs create a series of detailed images of the tendons, ligaments, and bone that make up the ankle
- CT scan: CT scans take images from many angles and help give a 3D view of the bony injury
What is the treatment for an ankle fracture or broken ankle?
The diagnostic tests provided by Dr. Patel will determine the severity of the ankle fracture. Based on the results of these tests, there are non-surgical or surgical treatment options available.
- Apply ice to reduce swelling
- In some ankle sprains a walking boot, splint or cast may be prescribed
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling
- Use of crutches: May be used alongside other treatments to prevent unnecessary weight being applied to the injured ankle)
When performing surgery, Dr. Patel may need to use special screws, plates, or rods to realign or reposition the bones to heal in their proper anatomical alignment. Using screws, plates, or rods ensures that any bone fragments heal properly, in their correct position. After surgery, non-surgical treatments may be needed to aid in healing (such as applying ice, using crutches, etc.).
Ankle Fracture Specialist
Ankle fractures are often caused by a traumatic, high-impact injury, a fall or an accident. There are several different bones within the ankle that can be injured or fractured. Ankle fractures, depending on the severity, may be treated surgically or non-surgically with a cast or boot. Complex ankle specialist, Doctor Ronak Mukesh Patel, provides diagnosis as well as surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Houston, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX who have suffered an ankle fracture or a broken ankle. Contact Dr. Patel’s team today!