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Common Conditions

Ankle Fractures

What is an Ankle Fracture?
Ankle fractures can range from mild partial breaks of the bone to complete breaks with movement of the bone into an abnormal position. These injuries can be characterized as mild avulsion fractures where a small piece of bone pulls from its attachment to the larger bone structure, versus more severe injuries involving bone shattering of the tibia, fibula or both.

Ankle fractures are common injuries, seen by a podiatrist, which are usually caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward. These injuries can often be mistaken for an ankle sprain, but are actually very different. Early diagnosis of any ankle injury is the key to prevent log-term problem, which can lead to chronic post-traumatic arthritis, ankle instability and chronic pain.

Signs and Symptoms:
Ankle fracture can have multiple signs and symptoms, which can present in any combination or alone. The first involves pain at the site of the fracture, which can then radiate from the foot to the knee. Significant swelling is another sign, which can progress up the leg from the foot as well. Injuries of this sort can present with blistering and bruising around the fracture site, which should be promptly treated. Inability to walk can also be present, however in a large number of cases people present to the office walking on the fracture. Bone protrusion and a change in the appearance of the ankle is a sign that usually involves immediate care and re-alignment of the fractured bones. The sign of most concern involves bone penetration from the skin, which if not treated immediately can lead to severe infection and prolonged recovery.

Treatment Protocols:
Once an ankle injury occurs it is important to have the ankle evaluated immediately by a foot and ankle specialist. If speedy evaluation is not possible then the R.I.C.E principle should be exercised. This involves Rest, which is imperative to prevent further injury. Ice is utilized to reduce pain and swelling, this should be performed with an ice pack over a thin towel for 20 minutes of each walking hour. Compression and Elevation are used to further diminish swelling. Elevation should be above Hip level to be most beneficial. Once evaluated by your specialist further treatment will be rendered depending on the severity of the injury and if and movement of the fracture has occurred. Evaluation can be done via x-rays, or CAT scan to assess the need for surgery versus cast immobilization. Sufficient follow-up on the patients’ part is imperative to allow for adequate healing to minimize post-injury pain and complications.

Note: The following educational references are presented as a public service and for informational purposes only. The material is derived from the current medical knowledge on the topics listed. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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