Ankle fractures are common injuries that are most often caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward. Many people mistake an ankle fracture for an ankle sprain, but they are quite different and therefore require an accurate and early diagnosis. They sometimes occur simultaneously.
The symptoms of ankle sprains may include:
Pain or soreness
Stiffness in the joint
These symptoms may vary in intensity, depending on the severity of the sprain. Sometimes pain and swelling are absent in people with previous ankle sprains. Instead, they may simply feel the ankle is wobbly and unsteady when they walk. Even if there is no pain or swelling with a sprained ankle, treatment is crucial. Any ankle sprain – whether it’s your first or your fifth – requires prompt medical attention.
Chronic ankle instability usually develops following an ankle sprain that has not adequately healed or was not rehabilitated completely. When you sprain your ankle, the connective tissues (ligaments) are stretched or torn. The ability to balance is often affected. Proper rehabilitation is needed to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and “retrain” the tissues within the ankle that affect balance. Failure to do so may result in repeated ankle sprains.
Repeated ankle sprains often cause – and perpetuate – chronic ankle instability. Each subsequent sprain leads to further weakening (or stretching) of the ligaments, resulting in greater instability and the likelihood of developing additional problems in the ankle
Treatment of ankle fractures depends upon the type and severity of the injury. At first, the foot and ankle surgeon will want you to follow the
Rest: Stay off the injured ankle. Walking may cause further injury.
Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injured area, placing a thin towel between the ice and the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.
Compression: An elastic wrap should be used to control swelling.
Elevation: The ankle should be raised slightly above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Additional treatment options include:
Immobilization. Certain fractures are treated by protecting and restricting the ankle and foot in a cast or splint. This allows the bone to heal.
Prescription medications. To help relieve the pain, the surgeon may prescribe pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs.
When is Surgery Needed?
For some ankle fractures, surgery is needed to repair the fracture and other soft tissue related injuries, if present. The Orthopedic surgeon will select the procedure that is appropriate for your injury.
Treatment and prevention
Treatment for chronic ankle instability is based on the results of the examination and tests, as well as on the patient’s level of activity. Non-surgical treatment may include:
Physical therapy involves various treatments and exercises to strengthen the ankle, improve balance and range of motion, and retrain your muscles. As you progress through rehabilitation, you may also receive training that relates specifically to your activities or sport.
Some patients wear an ankle brace to gain support for the ankle and keep the ankle from turning. Bracing also helps prevent additional ankle sprains.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
When Is Surgery Needed?
In some cases, the foot and ankle surgeon will recommend surgery based on the degree of instability or lack of response to non-surgical approaches. Surgery usually involves repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligament(s). The Orthopedic surgeon will select the surgical procedure best suited for your case based on the severity of the instability and your activity level. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.