A broken or fractured ankle is an injury to the bone. You may experience a broken ankle from a twisting injury from a simple misstep or fall, or from direct trauma during a car crash, for example.
The seriousness of a broken ankle varies. Fractures can range from tiny cracks in your bones to breaks that pierce your skin.
Treatment for a broken ankle depends on the exact site and severity of the bone fracture. A severely broken ankle may require surgery to implant plates, rods or screws into the broken bone to maintain proper position during healing.
A fall or blow to your ankle can break one or more of the three bones in your ankle joint — the fibula, the tibia and the talus. Rolling your ankle can cause a break in the knobby bumps at the end of the tibia and fibula.
If you have a broken ankle, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
See a doctor if there is obvious deformity, if the pain and swelling don't get better with self-care, or if the pain and swelling get worse over time. Also, see a doctor if the injury interferes with walking.
A broken ankle is usually a result of a twisting injury, but can also be caused by a direct blow to the ankle.
The most common causes of a broken ankle include:
You may be at higher risk of a broken ankle if you:
Complications of a broken ankle are uncommon but may include:
These basic sports and safety tips may help prevent a broken ankle:
Your doctor will examine your ankle to check for points of tenderness. The precise location of your pain can help determine its cause.
Your doctor may move your foot into different positions to check your range of motion. You may be asked to walk for a short distance so that your doctor can examine your gait.
If your signs and symptoms suggest a break or fracture, your doctor may suggest one or more of the following imaging tests.
Treatments for a broken ankle will vary, depending on which bone has been broken and the severity of the injury.
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
After your bone has healed, you'll probably need to loosen up stiff muscles and ligaments in your ankles and feet. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to improve your flexibility, balance and strength.
You will likely initially seek treatment for a broken ankle in an emergency room or urgent care clinic. If the pieces of broken bone aren't lined up properly for healing, you may be referred to a doctor specializing in orthopedic surgery.
You may want to write a list that includes:
For a broken ankle, basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
If your injury isn't severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, here are some things you can do at home to care for your injury until you can see your doctor: