The ankle is a great example of a joint that works in unison. All the bones, tendons and ligaments when working together are incredibly strong and durable, yet each component individually is very fragile. This makes an ankle fracture one of the most common joint injuries; one wrong move can unevenly distribute your weight and cause you a lot of issues.
Ankle Fracture Symptoms
- Ankle tender to touch and move
- Swelling at the ankle joint
- Redness, discolouration or bruising to any part of the lower leg
- Sever pain in the ankle radiating into the shinbone, tibia or foot
- Unable to weight bear
Ankle Fracture Causes
An ankle fracture can affect anyone at anytime. It can occur due to twisting, rolling or rotating your ankle, a fall that makes you land on your ankle or a heavy force falling onto or putting pressure on your ankle joint like that seen in heavy impact car crashes. The ankle and foot itself is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. The three bones specific to an ankle fracture are the tibia, otherwise known as the shinbone, the fibula that is the thinner of the two lower leg bones and the talus, a small bone deep within the ankle, which supports both the tibia and fibula.
A fractured or broken ankle is where one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. It can range from a simple break in one bone, which may not stop you from walking, to several fractures which forces your ankle out of place and result in not walking or weight bearing for months. The more bones that are broken, the more unstable the ankle becomes.
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Ankle Fracture Treatment
If an ankle fracture is suspected it is advised to follow the RICE formula; rest, ice, compression and elevation prior to diagnosis. Immobilise the joint by wrapping it up to control swelling and seek additional care from a qualified Physiotherapist. Proper diagnosis of an ankle fracture will need to be made via an x-ray or CT scan. Treating your ankle fracture is dependent on the extent and type of injury you have been diagnosed with. Recovery time can range from 6 weeks to months. An ankle that was dislocated or damaged extensively will require surgery however if the ankle was not dislocated it can be treated non-surgically through the use of an ankle brace, walking boot or cast. Additionally the patient is required to not stand or weight bear for at least 6 weeks giving the joint adequate time to recover.
How Can a Physiotherapist help?
Once it has been confirmed that a fracture has healed, your physiotherapist can work with you to safely start weight bearing again and begin treatment to help you regain strength, mobility and balance. A rehabilitation program will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of the injury and whether or not surgery was involved, the age and general health of the patient. As you regain strength a training program specific to your job, sporting activities or leisure behaviours will be provided to ensure this injury does not happen again. Suffered from ankle injuries in the past? Book online today!