Anatomy of a Broken Ankle
A tackle. A fall. An awkward twist. They can all result in a fractured, or broken ankle. It is possible that more than one of the bones and joints that comprise the ankle can break at the same time, and sometimes even snap out of place. This is a widespread injury among athletes, but it can happen to anyone.
Symptoms of a Fracture
Because this condition is usually caused by a sudden impact, it is typically diagnosed and treated soon after it happens. An obvious sign is a bone protruding from your skin. However, sometimes even a broken bone can go unnoticed. If you feel that this may be the case with you, there are several signs to help you know if you’ve been seriously hurt. First, are you in pain? Pain is an effective indicator of injury. It helps us know if there is damage that needs to be taken care of in our bodies.
Is the pain worsened when you try to bear weight on your foot? A broken ankle often will make it difficult to walk. Think of it as a building missing a piece of its foundation—the building then has difficulty standing secure. The same is true with your foot. If one piece is out of place, it can affect your overall stability.
Next, look to see if there is any swelling. Check for bruising around your foot and lower leg as well. Has the shape of your ankle changed? These are all tell-tale signs that a break has possibly occurred.
Diagnosing a Break
If your bone is protruding, it’s important not touch it or try to reinsert, realign, or straighten it on your own, as this could lead to further damage. If there is no obvious protrusion, a fracture can be diagnosed by use of an X-ray, which will provide an interior view of your bones and help determine the severity and location of the break. Sometimes, you may have a CT or MRI as well, to give a more thorough close-up. Another method is to undergo a stress test. This is when pressure is applied to the area before a specific kind of X-ray is taken.
Treatment and Long-Term Outlook
Treatment plans vary depending on the kind of fracture you have received. Usually, you’ll wear a hard cast for six to eight weeks to keep the bone in position while it heals. During this time, try to stay off of your feet whenever possible, and elevate your leg as often as you can.
For some, surgery may be necessary. A short duration in the hospital, ranging from two to three days, is common after the procedure. Afterward, a plan for your individual needs will be designed to help the healing process. This typically consists of a cast and/or physical therapy.
With the right recovery tools and patience, you can return to your normal lifestyle.
If you think that you have suffered a broken ankle, Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad from Foot Doctor of the East Bay can help. Visit our offices in San Leandro, Los Gatos, or Pleasanton, CA today. The sooner you treat your fractured foot the better!