Broken or fractured ankles are on the rise according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "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." A broken ankle can be a simple break requiring a cast or a severe bone-shattering fracture that requires surgery.
Your ankle has three bones; the tibia or shinbone, the fibula or small bone on the side of your ankle and the talus or foot bone. Breaking one of these bones can occur if you twist, roll or rotate your ankle hard enough to cause a break. Another way of breaking the ankle is due to an impact injury such as a car accident.
Symptoms of a broken ankle are severe or mild throbbing pain, swelling, bruises, open wound with bone protruding, possible pain when weight is put on it, tenderness and deformity.
Go To Your Doctor
You will want to go to your doctors immediately if you suspect a break. He will do an X-ray to determine where the break is and what your prognosis will be. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Physicians, until you are able to go to be examined by a doctor, the "R.I.C.E." method of healing should be followed. Rest; stay off the injured foot. Ice to reduce swelling and pain. Compression; wrap the ankle in an elastic bandage to prevent further swelling. Elevate; keeping the foot slightly above hip level.
Clean Break Prognosis
Your prognosis for recovery with an ankle break depends on where and how bad it is broken. In most cases, your ankle will heal and you will have no lasting effects due to an ankle break.
If the ankle is not out of place, for example a chip or crack in the bone, this is called a clean break. Your doctor will stabilize the ankle for about six weeks. Some doctors do not want you to put any weight on the foot for six weeks and others allow it. There are different ways to stabilize the ankle. Your doctor can put you in a short leg cast, or give you a specially made removable brace that Velcros over your foot. This second type allows you to take it off to bathe. Your doctor will take more X-rays to see how your ankle is healing before he allows you to take your cast off.
A break where your ankle has moved or is out of place is called a displaced fracture. This break makes your ankle unstable and you are probably not able to walk on that foot at all. This break is more complicated and will require more recovery time and possibly surgery. Surgery will probably include the placement of metal rods, plates and screws. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "weight bearing will not be allowed on your ankle for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, the ankle may be protected by a removable brace as it continues to heal." Your doctor will take more X-rays to see how the bone is healing. You may have to continue to wear the brace or cast depending on your situation. Your doctor may require you to stay off of your foot longer if your ankle needs it. Physical therapy may be required for several months after your cast has been removed to restore strength and flexibility to your ankle.