6 Signs of an Ankle Fracture

An ankle fracture consists of one or more bones in the ankle joint suffering a partial or complete break. Fractures primarily occur when the ankle rolls either inward or outward. 

Many of our patients mistake a fracture for a simple sprain, but they’re entirely different conditions that require an early and accurate diagnosis so you can get proper treatment.

At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, our board-certified podiatrists offer advanced diagnostics and personalized treatment plans for ankle fractures. So you know when you need to see a doctor about your injury, we’ve put together this guide on the things to know about ankle fractures.

Ankle anatomy

Before we can talk about fractures, it helps to understand a bit about the structure of your ankle and related tissues.

Three bones come together at your ankle joint:

The tibia joins the ankle at two points: the medial malleolus, or inside part of the tibia, and the posterior malleolus, or back part of the tibia. The fibula enters the joint at the end of the bone, called the lateral malleolus. 

Fractures are classified by the bone area that’s broken. For example, if you break the inside part of your tibia, it’s said to be a medial malleolar fracture.

Ankle fractures can affect the ankle joint (where the three bones come together) or the syndesmosis joint (located between the tibia and fibula and held together by ligaments).

Many different ligaments also come together to stabilize the ankle joint. When you sustain a fracture, ligaments may be damaged as well as bone, leading to instability.

6 signs of an ankle fracture

Signs of an ankle fracture include:

In many cases, broken bones beneath the skin don’t cause any obvious tissue damage, but you will experience pain when you try to put weight on it.

What about stress fractures?

A stress fracture is just what it sounds like — a crack in the bone of the feet and ankles that results from repeated stress. That stress may come from overuse, such as pounding the pavement running, overtraining, or wearing improper shoes without enough heel and arch support.

Stress fractures lead to pain, swelling, and bruising of the ankle. If not properly treated, they can weaken the ankle joint, leaving you at a greater risk for developing more serious fractures.

Treating ankle fractures

At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, we provide both conservative and surgical treatments for foot and ankle fractures. Which treatment we use depends on how severe the fracture is.

If you have a mild fracture, we may recommend conservative treatments such as:

If the break is severe and your ankle is unstable, we may perform surgery to realign the pieces of the bone, using screws and plates to hold them together when necessary.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of an ankle fracture, it’s time to come in and see one of our podiatrists for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Contact us today at either of our Chicago locations or at our Orland Park or New Lenox, Illinois, office.

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