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Ankle Fracture

An ankle fracture is a break of a bone in the ankle joint. The joint is made up of three bones:

  • Tibia (shin bone) — The main bone of the lower leg that runs along the inside of the leg
  • Fibula — The smaller bone of the lower leg that runs along the outside of the leg
  • Talus — The bone that provides the connection between the leg and the foot

ankle fracture

Ankle fracture locations

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Any form of ankle trauma may cause injury, including:

  • Falls
  • Twists
  • Blows
  • Collisions

Broken Ankle Symptoms

Symptoms of a fractured ankle include:

  • Immediate pain 
  • Swelling
  • Bruising around the injured area
  • Tenderness 
  • Inability to put weight on the injured foot without pain, although some people are able to walk with minor fractures

Treating a Broken Ankle

Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment includes:

  • Putting the pieces of the bone back into position, which may require anesthesia and/or surgery
  • Holding the pieces together while the bone heals itself

Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:

  • A cast (may be used with or without surgery)
  • A metal plate with screws (requires surgery)
  • Screws alone (requires surgery)
  • A rod down the middle of the bone (requires surgery)

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankle

When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to help you with these exercises. Do not return to sports activity until your doctor says your ankle has fully healed. 

How Long Does it Take a Broken Ankle to Heal?

It takes at least 6-8 weeks for even a simple ankle fracture to heal. It will be several months before you can return to intense physical activity.

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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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