Ankle Fractures

Article by Dr. Darren R Keiser MD

A broken ankle is also known as an ankle “fracture.” This means that one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken.

A fractured ankle can range from a simple break in one bone, which may not stop you from walking, to several fractures, which forces your ankle out of place and may require that you not put weight on it for a few months.

Simply put, the more bones that are broken, the more unstable the ankle becomes. There may be ligaments damaged as well. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position.

Broken ankles affect people of all ages. During the past 30 to 40 years, doctors have noted an increase in the number and severity of broken ankles, due in part to an active, older population of “baby boomers.”

Causes

> Twisting or rotating your ankle

> Rolling your ankle

> Tripping or falling

> Impact during a car accident

Symptoms

> Immediate and severe pain

> Swelling

> Bruising

> Tender to touch

> Cannot put any weight on the injured foot

> Deformity (“out of place”), particularly if the ankle joint is dislocated as well

Doctor Examination

After discussing your medical history, symptoms, and how the injury occurred, your doctor will do a careful examination of your ankle, foot, and lower leg.

Imaging Tests
If your doctor suspects an ankle fracture, he or she will order additional tests to provide more information about your injury.

X-rays. X-rays are the most common and widely available diagnostic imaging technique. X-rays can show if the bone is broken and whether there is displacement (the gap between broken bones). They can also show how many pieces of broken bone there are. X-rays may be taken of the leg, ankle, and foot to make sure nothing else is injured.

Stress test. Depending on the type of ankle fracture, the doctor may put pressure on the ankle and take a special x-ray, called a stress test. This x-ray is done to see if certain ankle fractures require surgery.

Computed tomography (CT) scan. This type of scan can create a cross-section image of the ankle and is sometimes done to further evaluate the ankle injury. It is especially useful when the fracture extends into the ankle joint.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These tests provide high resolution images of both bones and soft tissues, like ligaments. For some ankle fractures, an MRI scan may be done to evaluate the ankle ligaments.

**Call the office of Dr. Darren Keiser to set up an appointment

Article URL: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00391&webid=2FDDE053