Ankle fractures have a number of causes
A broken ankle, or an ankle fracture, can occur from a number of traumatic mechanisms. Ankle fractures may also occur from repetitive trauma without a discrete injury, as with stress fractures. Luckily, our Cypress orthopedist offers expert diagnosis and treatment of these fractures.
Understanding the ankle
The ankle is comprised of the fibula and the tibia, which sit on top of the talus to form the tibiotalar, or ankle joint. The fibula is the outside bone in the lower leg. It is the portion that makes up the outside part of the ankle that is termed the lateral malleolus. The tibia, or shin bone, forms the front and inside portions of the ankle. The part of the tibia that forms the bony bump on the inside area of the ankle is termed the medial malleolus.
Basic types of ankle fractures
Direct trauma, rotational injuries and falls with impact to the heel are some of the ways ankle fractures may occur. The location of the fracture, degree of displacement and other patient factors determine whether an ankle fracture requires surgical or conservative management from our Cypress orthopedist.
Ankle fractures are broadly classified into stable and unstable ankle fractures.
- Stable ankle fractures do not require surgery. In adults, they typically require immobilization in a cast or a boot for approximately six weeks, while allowing for full weight-bearing. These are often fractures to the lateral malleolus, or outside ankle bone, without any other associated fractures and minimal displacement. In children, stable ankle fractures commonly occur at the growth plate of the lateral malleolus. These fractures typically only require three weeks of immobilization in a weight-bearing cast.
- Unstable ankle fractures require surgery for adequate healing and to limit long-term complications, such as arthritis. They often involve fractures to both the lateral malleolus and medial malleolus, termed a bimalleolar ankle fracture. If the back of the tibia (posterior malleolus) is also fractured, it is called a trimalleolar ankle fracture. In most cases, both bimalleolar and trimalleolar ankle fractures require surgical repair. Surgery usually involves one or more incisions in the ankle and the placement of plates and screws to realign the fracture fragments in their anatomic position. Recovery typically requires immobilization in a splint, cast or boot for up to 10 weeks. A period of six to eight weeks of non-weight-bearing is often required to allow for proper healing. If the fracture extends into the ankle joint, this may require much longer periods of immobilization and non-weight-bearing.
Other types of ankle fractures
Other kinds of ankle fractures that our Cypress orthopedist sees include stress fractures and avulsion fractures.
- Stress fractures occur without a discrete injury and are due to repetitive trauma. They are often seen when people increase their activity level over a short period of time, as when training for a long-distance run. Treatment generally involves a period of immobilization in a cast or boot and surgery is rarely necessary.
- Avulsion fractures occur when soft tissue, such as a ligament, pulls off a small fragment of bone at its insertion point on the bone rather than the ligament itself tearing. These injuries are treated similarly to ankle sprains, and typically require immobilization in a cast or boot for two to four weeks.
Regardless of what type of ankle fracture you have, our Cypress orthopedist can diagnose and treat it. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.
- Ankle fractures
- LisFranc fractures
- 5th Metatarsal fractures
- Stress fracture