• Ankle fracture


    An ankle fracture is a complete or incomplete break of one or both of the bones of the ankle- tibia (inside bone) and fibula (outside bone). These fractures are very common. A temporary dislocation and rupture of ligaments of the ankle joint may also occur with this injury. 

    Common signs and symptoms

    Notify a physician if you have any of the following:

    • Severe pain in the ankle at the time of injury and when trying to move the ankle
    • Feeling of popping or tearing in the inner or outer part of the ankle, sometimes as if ankle joint was temporarily dislocated and popped back into place
    • Cracking or other sound may be heard at the time of fracture
    • Severe tenderness in the ankle
    • Swelling in the ankle and foot; occasionally blisters
    • Bleeding and bruising in the ankle and foot
    • Inability to stand or bear weight on the injured extremity
    • Visible deformity if the fracture is complete and the bone fragments separate enough to distort normal leg


    Initial treatment consists of elevation of the leg, and ice to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Treatment requires cast or brace immobilization or surgery to place pins, rods, plates, or screws to fix the fracture. The decision to operate is based on the type of fracture, the bone involved, whether the bone is out of position, and the age and general condition of the patient. Surgery is performed to help reposition or hold the bone in the proper position.

    After surgery, casting or bracing is usually needed. Keeping off the leg with the broken ankle and elevating the leg for the first few weeks after the injury or surgery will help reduce pain and swelling. After immobilization (with or without surgery), stretching and strengthening of the injured and weakened joint and surrounding muscles (due to the injury and the immobilization) is necessary. This may be done with or without the assistance of a physical therapist or athletic trainer. The plate or screws usually do not need to be removed.

    RICE Principle 

    With all acute injuries, follow the RICE principle to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation.

    R est- Walk with crutches if you cannot bear weight.

    I ce- Use an ice pack for 20 minutes every two to three hours during the first 72 hours.

    C ompression- Use an ace wrap on the ankle. Start at the bottom of the toes and wrap up to mid-calf.

    E levation- Keep the injured ankle above the level of your heart when sitting or lying down

    More on foot pain and other problems