A Breakdown on Broken Ankles

It’s easy to take our lower extremities for granted when everything is working smoothly, but all it takes is one injury to really appreciate everything they do for you. Broken ankles can be serious injuries, especially when you realize how much you rely on your ankles to walk, run, jump, and even drive your car. If you suffer from an ankle injury, come see us at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida so we can provide the care you need to ensure your bones mend correctly.

Ankle AnatomyBroken Ankles

Ankles are intricately constructed, being formed by the talus (ankle bone) and lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) and are held together with a series of ligaments. There are actually two different joints in the ankle complex – the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint.

Your true ankle joint is where the lower leg bones meet the talus. This joint allows your foot to move up and down. Your subtalar joint is underneath the talus, where it sits upon the calcaneal (heel) bone. The subtalar joint allows your foot to move side to side.

Types of Bone Fractures

The bones in the ankle are as susceptible to fractures as any other bones in the body. Perhaps even more so because of their role in enabling movement. There are varied types of fractures that can occur in ankles, including:

  • Stable fractures. In these kinds of breaks, the broken ends of the bone line up correctly and are barely out of place, which is ideal for healing.
  • Open, compound fractures. With these fractures, the skin can be pierced either at the time of physical trauma by the force causing the break or by the broken bone itself. Depending on the injury, bone may or may not be visible (coming through the skin) in these types of wounds.
  • Stress fractures. While a stable or compound fracture are typically caused by an isolated event, stress fractures are overuse injuries that develop when a bone is not given the chance to replenish damaged cells before sustaining an excessive force again. This can lead to hairline cracks in the surface of the bone.
  • Transverse fractures. These fractures are identified by a horizontal fracture line.
  • Oblique fractures. These fractures have an angled pattern.
  • Comminuted fractures. In these fractures, the affected bone has shattered into three or more pieces.

Broken Ankle Symptoms

The various symptoms of a broken ankle will depend on the severity and type of fracture sustained, but can include any of the following:

  • Pain – This is often immediate and can be quite severe. In cases of acute injuries, the pain is sharp, but it can be dull for stress fractures.
  • Swelling – The affected area will begin to swell as your body begins the healing process.
  • Bruising – Your ankle will likely become black and blue shortly after the injury.
  • Decreased ability to walk – It will hurt intensely to put any weight on the broken ankle, so walking may be out of the question.
  • Bone protruding through the skin – If you have suffered an acute traumatic injury and bone has pierced the skin, seek immediate medical care. This opening could result in a potentially dangerous infection.

Treatment for Broken Bones

In the same manner that symptoms will depend on the severity and type of fracture, so too does the treatment options we may use. In the case of simple fractures, ice, elevation, rest, casting, and/or splints might be used to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and immobilize the affected bone so it can heal correctly. Crutches or a knee walker might be prescribed to allow you to be mobile, while keeping weight off the injured ankle.

In some cases, surgery is needed to repair a broken ankle. When this is the case, we may use pins, plates, or screws to stabilize the damaged bone and keep everything in place while it heals in the correct manner.

Ankle Care and Treatment in Central Florida

No matter the treatment you need, you will find it at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. We are staffed with medical experts and have five locations (Orlando, Tavares, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, and Altamonte Springs) for your convenience. Give us a call at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (for those calling from Lake County) and we can provide additional information.