A broken ankle is a fracture in one or more of the bones in the ankle joint.
This injury occurs when the ankle joint is twisted too far out of its normal position. Most ankle injuries occur either during sports activities or while walking on an uneven surface, forcing the foot and ankle into an unnatural position. A fracture can occur tripping or falling, landing awkwardly after a jump, twisting, rotating or severely rolling the ankle or from a sudden impact such as a car crash.
The symptoms of a sprain and of a fracture are very similar, and fractures are sometimes mistaken for sprains. The signs include sudden, severe pain, swelling, bruising and an inability to walk or bear weight on the injured ankle.
Don’t place any weight on the ankle and get a doctor’s evaluation as soon as possible. Fractures that aren’t treated properly can lead to long-term chronic problems, such as repeated injury, ankle weakness and arthritis. Fractures can be treated either surgically or nonsurgically:
- Immobilization with a brace or cast.
- Surgery, using a metal plate and screws to hold the bones in place.
- Physical therapy, including gait training, balance, strengthening and mobility exercises.