Ankle Fracture



Ankle Fracture

Ankle fractures, prevalent among all age groups and activity levels, result from twists, falls, or trauma. From minor cracks to severe breaks, symptoms include pain, swelling, and weight-bearing difficulties. Understanding the causes and severity is crucial for prompt medical intervention and effective treatment.

Ankle Fracture

How Does An Ankle Fracture Occur?

Ankle fractures can abruptly disrupt daily routines, stemming from various everyday occurrences. Primarily, direct impacts to the ankle trigger these fractures, often due to:

Types of Ankle Fractures

Ankle fractures come in a variety of types, each with its own cause and severity. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types:

Lateral Malleolus Fracture

Lateral Malleolar fracture is the most common ankle fracture, often caused by rolling your ankle or landing awkwardly. It affects the fibula, the thinner bone on the outer side of your ankle. Athletes and those who participate in high-impact activities are particularly susceptible to this type of fracture.

Bimalleolar Ankle Fracture

Bimalleolar fracture involves both the fibula and the tibia, the larger shinbone on the inner side of your ankle. It's usually the result of a more forceful impact, like a fall or car accident. Bimalleolar fractures can be serious due to potential ligament damage.

Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture

Trimalleolar fracture is considered the most severe ankle fracture. This injury involves not just the fibula and tibia but also the back part of the tibia. It's a high-energy injury caused by major impacts like falls from great heights or car accidents.

Pilon Fracture

Pilon fracture involves a break in the tibia itself, either in one spot or in multiple pieces. Similar to trimalleolar fractures, it's caused by high-energy impacts.

Maisonneuve Fracture

Maisonneuve fracture can be tricky to diagnose because X-rays of the ankle might appear normal. The break actually occurs higher up the fibula, near the knee, due to the stress from a twisted ankle. The pain might be felt around the ankle, making it seem like a simple sprain.
Ankle Fracture

Symptoms Of An Ankle Fracture

Ankle pain can be confusing. It’s difficult to differentiate between a sprain and a fracture. Here are some symptoms that might indicate you have an ankle fracture:

Having these symptoms does not guarantee that you broke your ankle. It might just be a bad sprain. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, especially after a fall or twist, it’s crucial to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Early intervention can make a big difference in your path to recovery.

Ankle Fracture

How Is An Ankle Fracture Diagnosed?

While the immediate pain might suggest a broken ankle, a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional is crucial for accurate diagnosis. Here’s a breakdown of the diagnostic process:

Physical Examination

The initial assessment involves a thorough physical examination. The physician will palpate the ankle to identify areas of localised tenderness. The precise location of the pain can offer valuable insight into the potential cause of the injury.


A small amount of radioactive material is injected intravenously, and a scan detects areas with increased metabolic activity, potentially indicating a fracture.

Stress Test

This test helps differentiate between a sprain and a fracture. Specific movements are applied to the ankle joint, and the patient's response to any additional pain is closely monitored. A positive stress test, where specific movements exacerbate pain, can indicate ligament instability or a potential fracture.

CT Scan

A CT scan captures multiple images from different angles and combines them to create detailed cross-sectional views of the ankle joint. It can reveal intricate details of the broken bone and surrounding soft tissues, aiding in treatment planning decisions.

MRI Scan

MRI scan utilises powerful magnets and radio waves to generate highly detailed pictures of the ligaments within the ankle joint. It can be invaluable for identifying fractures that might be missed on X-rays, especially those involving ligament injuries.

Ankle Fracture

What Should I Do If I Fracture My Ankle?

If you had a high-impact injury on your ankle and feel you have fractured it, it’s important you take immediate action. The first thing every medical professional would want you to do is follow the RICE protocol:

Ankle Fracture

Treatments For An Ankle Fracture

Ankle fractures do not always require surgery. Your doctor will decide whether surgery is necessary based on the specific characteristics of your fracture. Factors like the number of bones broken, the degree of displacement, and the involvement of ligaments are all considered.


This approach is preferred for less severe fractures, particularly stable fractures where the bones haven't shifted significantly. Here's what you might expect:

Immobilisation: A cast or walking boot will be applied to immobilise the ankle joint, allowing the bones to heal properly. The duration of immobilisation depends on the fracture severity.

Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain range of motion in the uninjured joints and promote strength around the ankle joint might be initiated early on to facilitate a smoother recovery later.


Ankle fracture surgery can help restore mobility, stability, and overall function to the affected ankle. By precisely realigning fractured bones and stabilising the ankle joint, surgery aims to promote proper healing and reduce the risk of long-term complications. Additionally, surgical intervention can alleviate pain, facilitate earlier weight-bearing, and expedite rehabilitation, thereby enabling patients to regain functionality and return to their daily activities with improved quality of life.

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