Ankle Fracture Treatment in Utah County
The fracturing, or breaking, of any bone, is a painful, unwanted experience that can have serious repercussions on your daily life. Depending on the fracture's location, it can prevent you from doing many of the activities that you would otherwise be able to do easily. If you, for example, fracture your wrist, wash dishes, prepare dinner, typing on your computer, or driving your car, it may be far more difficult or nearly impossible.
When it comes to a fractured ankle bone, the stress and issues that accompany the break are exponential. The simplest tasks, such as walking, are painful, and you need to stop your regular activities until your ankle has been examined, diagnosed, and treated.
At Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute in Utah County, we understand how important it is for you to regain mobility following an ankle fracture as quickly as possible, so we take the time necessary to thoroughly examine your injury and determine the best course of treatment for your situation.
What You Need To Know About Fractured Ankles
- What is a Fractured Ankle?
- What are the Symptoms of a Fractured Ankle?
- How Do I Know If I Have a Fractured Ankle. What Does It Look Like?
- Types of Fractured Ankles?
- Can You Walk on a Fractured Ankle?
- How Long Does a Fractured Ankle Take to Heal
- Can a Fractured Ankle Heal on Its Own?
- How to Treat a Fractured Ankle
What is a Fractured Ankle?
A fractured ankle refers specifically to an injury affecting your ankle bone in which the bone actually breaks. A broken ankle can be severe, whether it is from a misstep resulting in a fall or some type of trauma. Fractures can range from tiny cracks in the bone up to severe breaks that end up piercing through the skin. There may also be complicated factors associated with the fracture's circumstances that will need to be considered when determining treatment.
What are the Symptoms of a Fractured Ankle?
If you think you may have a fractured ankle, you may be experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Immediate, throbbing pain directly after the injury occurs
- Tenderness when touched
- Deformity (extreme cases)
- Pain or difficulty walking or putting weight on the injured foot
It may be challenging to determine on your own whether you have a fractured ankle (if you actually injured the bone) or possibly a sprained ankle where you stretched or tore a ligament. That is why you must seek the medical advice of a trained professional podiatrist as soon as possible.
In general, it is most advisable for patients with a fractured ankle to seek out medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent further injury or complications. For fractures that are hairline, the pain and swelling may subside with self-care, including the R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. However, it is still best to consult with a professional podiatrist to ensure proper healing.
How Do I Know If I Have a Fractured Ankle. What Does It Look Like?
Obviously, in the most extreme cases, you will know that you have a broken ankle if it is severe enough for the bone to be piercing through the skin. Short of that, it may be challenging to determine whether you have fractured your ankle or sprained it since many of the symptoms are similar between the two conditions.
For any fractured ankle, pain, and swelling are the two most common symptoms that a patient will experience in the ankle region. The pain and swelling can also spread to parts of the foot or up toward the knee, and the pain will become much more intense if any pressure or weight is put on the injured foot.
To truly determine if the ankle has been fractured, x-rays are generally the first required diagnosis tool. The x-rays will show if the ankle bone has been broken or if the problem rests in the soft tissue. A CT scan or MRI may also be utilized to understand the scope of the injury fully. An orthopedic surgeon may be called in if a fracture is severe enough to warrant surgery as a treatment option.
Types of Fractured Ankles?
When doctors examine an injury to the ankle bone, they will be looking at three bones, all forming the ankle region. The ankle area has (what is known as) three sides and a “roof,” and the fracture can occur in any of these locations or a combination of them.
Stress Fractured Ankle
A stress fracture (also known as a hairline fracture) in the ankle refers to a small crack in the bone or severe bruising within the bone caused by overuse and repetitive activity. They are common in athletes such as runners, soccer players, and basketball players due to the repetitive nature of running. The stress fracture often occurs in the foot bone (metatarsal) and ankle bone (talus).
Avulsion Fractured Ankle
When a tendon or ligament attached to the bone pulls a piece of a fractured bone off, it is known as an avulsion fracture. They are common in children or adults who frequently play sports.
Fibula Fractured Ankle
Fibula fractures occur most commonly when the ankle joint is damaged. If the ankle buckles or is twisted unusually, the fibula is then damaged as part of the injury. The fibula bone can also be injured in isolation, but an injury occurring in conjunction with the ankle is seen quite frequently.
Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture
As the name suggests, the trimalleolar ankle fracture involves breaks in the three sides of the ankle: medial malleolus of the tibia, lateral malleolus, and posterior malleolus (lower portion of the fibula).
Can You Walk on a Fractured Ankle?
For most patients, it is too painful to walk on a fractured ankle, especially if there is swelling and bruising at the sight of the injury. For mild breaks such as the hairline or stress fractures, many patients can walk with a splint, short leg cast, or walking boot. Others, however, cannot put any weight on the injured foot and need crutches or a wheelchair to move around.
In the most severe cases, treatment includes surgery to correct bones or bone fragments that have been misaligned. These patients may need physical therapy to regain strength and mobility in the ankle so that they can return to standard walking functionality.
How Long Does a Fractured Ankle Take to Heal
In general, the time to fully heal a fractured ankle (or any broken bone, really) is about six weeks. If ligaments or other soft tissues have also been damaged, they may take longer to heal completely.
Patients will need to keep weight off their healing ankle bones to heal properly, and after about six weeks, patients may be considered ready for physical therapy to begin. They should refrain from putting weight on the injured bone until our experienced podiatrists have cleared them.
Can a Fractured Ankle Heal on Its Own?
Even if the bone break is a small stress fracture, it will need assistance in the healing process. Putting any amount of weight on the injured foot or attempting to resume activity too soon and without a cast or other immobilization method can cause serious complications and further delay the healing process.
Our doctors at Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute in Utah County will, at the very least, treat your injury by immobilizing your foot with some type of cast or walking boot and ask that you refrain from physical activity for 6 to 8 weeks to let the bone heal. Broken bones in any area of your body should be examined and treated by a medical professional to speed the healing process and ensure that no additional medical issues arise.
How to Treat a Fractured Ankle
Treatment for a fractured ankle depends largely on the severity of the break. Mild fractures may only require 6 to 8 weeks of rest and immobilization, but more serious breaks may need to be surgically repaired. It is integral that any treatment returns your ankle bone and joint to the strong and stable alignment they had before the break. If the alignment is off by even 2 millimeters, the disastrous result can be arthritis, so a medical professional (preferably a podiatrist) must examine and treat your fractured ankle.
Severe fractures where the bones or bone fragments are misaligned will need to be surgically repaired to ensure the proper healing occurs. If surgical intervention to realign the bone does not happen, there may be issues with proper movement in the ankle or more significant complications in the future, including chronic ankle instability.
Let Us Get You Back On Your Feet!
If you have rolled your ankle during a sports game or a misstep on the stairs, our doctors' team can help. When you roll your ankle, there is a chance that the bone may have been fractured if enough pressure was applied to the area. It would help if you always had a doctor assess whether your ankle is sprained or whether there is a problem with the bone.
At Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute, our friendly Utah County podiatrists can help you determine what course of treatment is needed for your ankle pain so that you can get back on your feet and live a healthy, pain-free life. If the pain in your ankle is sharp or recurring and accompanied by swelling or redness, you must make an appointment at Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute.
From ankle fractures to Achilles tendon ruptures and everything in between, our experienced podiatrists at our two convenient locations are here to help. Our doctors are leading experts in the most up-to-date procedures and treatments. They are dedicated to continuing education, staying at the forefront of podiatric techniques. Contact us today to learn more about our foot and ankle treatment centers and to schedule an appointment.