What Is A Broken Ankle? A broken ankle is a break in one or both of the bones that make up the ankle joint. These bones are the tibia and the fibula. Ankle breaks, or fractures, can occur in many different ways: for example, by falls, contact sports and exercise injuries, and force from a blow. There are many types of fractures, which determine the severity of the injury and its treatment:
- 1. Non-displaced fracture - the broken pieces of bone remain properly aligned.
- 2. Displaced fracture - the broken pieces of bone are not properly aligned.
- 3. Comminuted fracture - there are more than two pieces of bone at the fracture.
- 4. Compound (open) fracture - one end of the broken bone has broken through the skin.
- 5. Closed fracture - neither end of the broken bone has pierced the skin.
- 6. Impacted fracture - the ends of the broken bone are driven into each other.
- 7. Avulsion fracture - the muscle or ligament has pulled away from where it was originally attached.
- 8. Pathological fracture - the bone has been weakened or destroyed by disease (such as osteoporosis) so that the bone breaks easily.
Broken Ankle Symptoms: Symptoms of a broken ankle include: a snapping or popping sound at the time of the injury, loss of function (hurts to move the ankle), pain, tenderness, swelling,deformity (sometimes), discolored skin, or bruising, which appears hours to days after the injury. Rarely, will you have an open wound with an ankle fracture. To diagnose an ankle fracture (broken ankle), the doctor will review your symptoms, ask about how the injury occurred, and examine you. The doctor will also order x-rays. Several different views of the bone may be taken to pinpoint the fracture. The immediate emergency treatment for a broken ankle is immobilization (keeping it from moving), elevation, compression (wrapping it with an elastic or Ace bandage), and the application of ice packs. The doctor may need to set your ankle bone back into proper place and put you in a cast for 6 to 8 weeks. If the ankle fracture is not too severe, you may be able to walk in the cast after a short period of time. If the ankle bone cannot be aligned perfectly before it is ready for a cast, surgery will be necessary. In the first 2 to 3 weeks after the injury, be sure to keep your ankle elevated on pillows and place ice packs or gel ice wraps on top of the cast for 20 - 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours to help reduce swelling.
You should also:
- 1. Make sure the cast does not get wet - cover the cast with a cast cover when you take a bath or shower.
- 2. Use crutches or a cane, as directed by your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how much weight you can put on your leg, if any.
- 3. Not scratch the skin around the cast or poke things down the cast. Taking proper care of yourself after a broken ankle is important to making a full recovery. Follow the full course of treatment your doctor prescribes.
It is also helpful to follow these guidelines:
- 1. Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods.
- 2. Get plenty of rest.
- 3. Elevate your leg when possible to reduce any swelling.
Call the doctor immediately if:
- 1. You have swelling above or below the fracture.
- 2. Your toenails or or feet turn gray or blue even when your leg is elevated.
- 3. You have numbness or complete loss of feeling in the skin below the fracture.
- 4. You have lingering pain at the site of the fracture under the cast, or increasing pain not helped by elevation or pain medication.
- 5. You have burning pain under your cast.
When Can I Return Back To My Sport Or Activity? The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return to soon, you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your sport or activity will be determined by how soon your ankle recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. Some people return after a few days after the cast is removed, some in several weeks. Your ankle will be healing while you're doing your ankle rehabilitation exercises. Your physical therapist will return you to full sport or activity when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:
- 1. You have full range of motion in the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.
- 2. You have full strength of the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.
- 3. You can jog straight ahead without pain or limping.
- 4. You can sprint straight ahead without pain or limping.
- 5. You can do 45-degree cuts, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.
- 6. You can do 20-yard figures-of-eight, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.
- 7. You can do 90-degree cuts, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.
- 8. You can do 10-yard figures-of-eight, first at half -speed, then at full-speed.
- 9. You can jump on both legs without pain and you can jump on the injured leg without pain. You may want to consider wearing an ankle brace before returning to full sport participation. Broken Ankle
Broken Ankle Rehabilitation: Broken Ankle Exercises: As soon as you can tolerate pressure on the ball of your foot, you should begin stretching your ankle using a towel for an easy, effective stretch while sitting on a couch or the floor. When this stretch is too easy, try the standing calf stretch and soleus stretch. You can do exercises 4 and 5 when your ankle swelling has stopped increasing. You may do exercises 6 through 9 when you can stand on your injured ankle without pain. If you're experiencing stiffness, try using an ankle heating pad to warm up the joint before conducting these exercises. These exercises will help improve your ankle strength, range of motion, and joint position awareness.
- 1)Towel stretch: Sit on a hard surface with your injured leg stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and pull the towel toward your body, keeping your knee straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- 2)Standing calf stretch: Facing a wall, put your hands against the wall at about eye level. Keep your injured leg back, the uninjured leg forward, and the heel of your injured leg on the floor. Turn your injured foot slightly inward (as if you were pigeon-toed) Slowly lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Do this several times a day.
- 3)Standing soleus stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands at about chest level. With both knees slightly bent and the injured foot back, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your lower calf. Once again, angle the toes of your injured foot slightly inward and keep your turn to the starting position. Repeat 3 times.
- 4)Ankle range of motion: You can do this exercise sitting or lying down. Pretend you are writing each of the letters of the alphabet with your foot. This will move your ankle in all directions. Do this twice.
- 5)Resisted dorsiflexion with resistance band: Sitting with your leg straight and your foot near a door, wrap the band around the ball of your foot. Anchor the other end of the band to the door by tying a knot in the band, slipping it between the door and the frame, and closing the door. Pull your toes toward your face. Return slowly to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10.
- 6)Resisted plantar flexion with band: Sitting with your leg outstretched, loop the middle section of the band around the ball of your foot. Hold the ends of the tubing in both hands. Gently press the ball of your foot down and point your toes, stretching the band. Return to the starting position. repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10.
- 7)Resisted eversion: Sit with your legs out straight and cross your uninjured leg over your injured ankle. Wrap the band around the ball of your injured foot and then loop it around your uninjured foot so that the band is anchored at one end. Turn your injured foot inward and upward. This will stretch the band. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10.
- 8)Heel raises: While standing, balance yourself on both feet behind a chair. Rise up on your toes, Hold 5 seconds and then lower yourself down. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10.
- 9)Toe raises: Stand in a normal weight-bearing position. Rock back on your heels so that your toes come off the ground. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets of 10.
- 10)Single leg balance: Stand without any support and attempt to balance on your injured leg. Begin with your eyes open and then try to perform the exercise with your eyes closed. Hold the single leg position for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- 11)Jump rope: Jump rope landing on both legs 5 minutes, then only on the injured leg for 5 minutes.
- 12)Wobble board: This exercise is important to restore balance and coordination to your ankle. Make a wobble board by cutting a circle of plywood two feet across. Place it on top of a 5 or 10 pound weight from a barbell set. Stand on top of the wobble board. Balance first on both legs, then on the injured leg. Do this for 2 to 5 minutes 3 times a day. You may need to hold onto a chair or table for balance.
You can help prevent an ankle fracture by following these guidelines: 1) Wear proper shoes that fit correctly when you exercise. 2) Gently stretch before and after physical activities such as aerobics, running, and sports. 3) Avoid playing recreational sports when you are fatigued. 4) Think about safety.
All material provided is designed for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the care of a health care professional. Do not rely on any of the information for diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you visit a qualified health care professional for individual and personal attention.