Broken Ankle

Definitions:

A broken ankle is a partial or complete fracture of an ankle bone. The severity of a break can vary from small pieces of bone that have been pulled off (called an avulsion injury) to complete shattering of a bone, which is more serious.

Ankle bones most often occur as a result of the ankle rolling inward or outward.  Sometimes a break is mistaken for an ankle sprain, and sometimes both occur.  This is why early and accurate diagnosis by a foot and ankle doctor is important

Signs and Symptoms:

There are several signs and symptoms of a broken or fractured ankle.  The symptoms that normally accompany an ankle fracture may include:

  • Pain – this may extend well beyond the area of the fracture.  Sometimes the pain may extend from the fracture area in the foot up to the knee.
  • Blisters – these should be promptly examined and treated.
  • Significant swelling and bruising
  • Difficulty or inability to walk.  A patient with a less severe break may be able to walk, but with pain.  Whether or not one is able to walk should never be the test to determine if a bone has been fractured.
  • The ankle will look different from the other ankle
  • A protruding bone  – This is, of course is a serious break that will need immediate attention.  Not doing so promptly could lead to infection and a longer time to recover.

Diagnosis:

If an ankle fracture is suspected, it should be examined by a foot and ankle specialist as soon as possible.  If the fracture occurs after office hours, a visit to the emergency room would be in order, with a follow up visit to the foot and ankle doctor.  Elevating the ankle is recommended to reduce swelling.

Treatment

Treatment usually includes immobilizing the foot and ankle with a cast or splint and prescription medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.  Some injuries may require surgery to repair bone and damaged tissue. If you are having any of the above symptoms, see Dr. Westemeyer, a San Diego podiatrist.  He will choose the treatment method best applicable to your situation.