Fractured ankle is a painful condition where one or more of the bones in your ankle is partially or completely broken.

Fractured Ankle

Orthopaedics Infoline

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What is a fractured ankle?

Fractured ankles occur when one or more of the ankle bones has partly or completely broken. This common injury can range in severity and is often caused by the ankle rolling inwards or outwards. Symptoms include immediate pain, swelling, bruising and tenderness as well as an inability to bear weight. If the bone has dislocated, this may be visible. Ankle fractures can sometimes be confused with a sprain. Getting an early diagnosis is crucial to securing the right treatment pathway. Ankle fractures are classified by how much the bone has moved out of place and this will determine the treatment.

  • Non-displaced fracture: the bones are not out of place.
  • Displaced fracture: the bone fragments have separated and are no longer in their natural position.
  • Open fracture: where the bone has broken through the skin.

How is it treated?

Ankle fractures should be treated with ice and elevation immediately following the injury. There are several different types of ankle fracture that affect different parts of your ankle. Not all broken bones will require surgery, but all ankle fractures will require treatment to heal. If the ankle fracture is a simple break without any displacement, it can usually be treated with a cast or orthopaedic boot to be worn for several weeks. If there is any bone displacement or if there are several fractures, ankle fracture surgery is usually required to realign the bones using plates and screws. This type of surgery is called Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF).

How long does it last?

The healing time for fractured ankle will depend on the extent of the injury. Simple ankle fractures that don’t require surgery can usually heal within 6-8 weeks. Once the bone itself has healed, it’s important to follow the physiotherapy exercises to maintain the range of mobility in the ankle joint and prevent it from stiffening up. Your doctor will advise when it is safe to start walking on your foot again and it can take several months to regain a full range of motion. In more severe cases where surgery is required, it can take up to 3 months before the ankle feels comfortable. Ankle swelling can persist for up to one year. 

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