When a bone is completely or partially broken, it is known as a fracture. An ankle fracture is an injury to the bone. It ranges from less serious avulsion injuries – small pieces of bones which have been pulled of – to more severe breaks of the fibula, tibia or even both.
Causes of Ankle Fracture
An ankle fracture is usually as a result of a direct blow to the ankle or a twisting injury. This can lead to the ankle either rolling inward or outward. An ankle sprain may be mistaken for an ankle fracture, but these are two different injuries although they can sometimes occur simultaneously. An early and accurate diagnosis is therefore necessary.
Some of the common causes of an ankle fracture include:
- Falls: Falling can cause bone breaks in your ankles, so can landing on your feet after jumping from height.
- Missteps: Missing steps can result in a twisting injury and this can cause a broken bone.
- Car accidents: Car accidents may cause broken bones that would require surgical repair.
Symptoms of Ankle Fracture
An ankle fracture can have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain at the ankle and it can extend from the foot to the knee
- Swelling along the length of the leg
- Blistering or bruising at the fracture site
- Change in the ankle’s appearance
- Bone protruding through the skin (compound ankle fracture)
Diagnosis of Ankle Fracture
After presenting the common symptoms of an ankle fracture, our specialist in orthopaedics will do a physical examination of your ankle to check for signs of tenderness. You may be asked to move your foot into different positions so that the doctor can check your range in motion. The specialist may also examine your gait by asking you to walk a short distance.
The following tests may be done to correctly diagnose an ankle fracture:
- X-rays: X-rays provide a visualization of most ankle fractures. Although the x-rays need to be taken from several different angles so that the bone images do not overlap each other too much.
- Bone scan: Bone scans help in diagnosing fractures that do not show up on x-rays. During a bone scan a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein. The radioactive material is usually attracted to the bones, particularly the ones that have been damaged. This results in the damaged areas showing as bright spots on the image.
- Computerized tomography (CT): This takes x-rays from different angles and combines them to make cross-sectional images of the internal structures of the body. A CT scan also reveals details about the soft tissues that surround the fractured ankle.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test creates detailed images of the ligaments that hold the ankle together.
Treatment of Ankle Fracture
Ankle fracture treatment usually depends on the type and severity of the injury. The first treatment that is administered following an ankle fracture is the RICE protocol. It involves Resting, applying an Ice pack on the injured area, Compression and Elevating the injured area to reduce any swelling and tenderness.
Other treatment options include:
- Prescription medications to relieve the pain as well as anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Immobilization of the ankle so as to protect and restrict it in order to allow the bone to heal. This is done by putting the ankle and foot in a cast or splint.
- Surgery: This may be needed to repair some types of fractures and other soft-tissue injuries.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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