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Ankle fractures

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Description

An ankle fracture is a break of one or more bones in the ankle. Fractures can be caused by anything that forces the ankle to move beyond its normal range of motion. Examples include falls, accidents, twisting injuries or a heavy blow to the ankle.

Ankle fractures are usually painful. But even if you’re able to walk, it’s not a good idea. Make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible. This can help avoid further injury.


Diagnosis

Your doctor will check your ankle and foot for swelling, displaced bones and to see if the ankle joint still moves. He or she may also examine your leg from the knee down. X-rays may be done to identify the location and type of break and the extent of the damage.


Treatment

The type of treatment you need depends on where and how badly your ankle is broken:

  • A cast may be needed to keep the bone in the proper place for healing. If so, an X-ray will be done to make sure the bone is aligned correctly.
  • In some cases, sections of broken bone must be realigned before a cast is put on. This procedure is called a reduction. A closed reduction doesn’t require surgery. An open reduction does.
  • For less serious fractures, a walking boot, brace or splint may be used instead of a cast.

Protect your ankle by giving it enough time to heal. When you become active again, some swelling and stiffness are normal. To help build strength and prevent another injury, your doctor may suggest physical or home exercise.

Exercise increases the flexibility of the ankle. If your doctor agrees, try the following exercise. Use your foot to write out the alphabet in the air. Be sure to work from the ankle and foot, not from the knee.

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