An ankle fracture is one of the most common injuries, as twisting, rolling, or bending it can cause the bone to break. People constantly use their ankles to walk, jump, or run, and one wrong move is all it takes to push the joint too far. Ankle fractures typically happen because of falls, car accidents, or twisting of the ankle. The ankle joint is made up of the tibia (shin) and fibula (outer leg). There are two malleoli (bone ends) on the tibia and one on the fibula. When an ankle is fractured, the malleoli are broken. One, two, or all three malleoli can be broken.
If you’ve injured your ankle, there will be a few telling signs if it’s fractured. First, there will be a lot of pain and a great deal of swelling. The ankle bone will be bruised or noticeably deformed, and you’ll have problems moving your ankle. You won’t be able to put any weight on your foot without feeling pain, and the joint will be tender to the touch.
Signs You May Need Surgery
Most ankle fractures don’t require surgery, but if the ankle is unstable or the bones aren’t positioned correctly, it will need to be repaired surgically. And if there’s a portion of your ankle bone sticking out of the skin, this is an open fracture that will require surgery. Also, if your ankle feels unstable, the bones are probably shattered and you’ll need to have them surgically put back together with pins or screws.
After undergoing a physical examination by a doctor, discussing your medical history, and having X-rays and possibly additional tests performed, your physician will determine whether you need ankle surgery. When the procedure takes place, the bone fragments of the ankle must be re-positioned into the appropriate alignment. The surgeon will then insert screws or metal plates on the outside of the bone. Sometimes, a metal rod is placed within the bone until it’s healed.
Each injury is different and every body heals at its own pace, but it will take at least six weeks for your bones to heal. If you’ve also torn ligaments or tendons, the healing time will be longer. After surgery, you won’t be able to move your leg to allow yourself to heal and avoid the risk of re-injury. You’ll continue to visit your doctor for checkups and X-rays to see how the healing process is going. He or she will tell you when it’s time to start putting some weight on your foot when the bones are strong enough to handle it. Once the bones are healed, your doctor will likely suggest rehabilitation. This is a series of exercises and stretches that will allow you to regain full motion and strength in your ankle. It could take up to a few months to a year to get back to normal.
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