Broken ankles are a very serious injury which, if not properly treated, can lead to continuous pain and an inability to walk. Broken ankles affect people of all ages but there has been an increase in the severity of broken ankles in the middle age to older population. An ankle is made up of at least three major bones--the tibia, fibula, and talus. The tibia and fibula are the two bones that connect to your knees. They sit directly upon the talus bone, protected by a fibrous membrane that allows slight movement in our ankle joint. When the ankle is broken, it is because the foot rolled under or twisted too far, causing one or more of these three bones to break. Typically, a single break does not cause instability, there are usually two breaks that result in an unstable configuration of the ankle presenting with pain, swelling, and will persist if not treated quickly.
An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments are ripped or torn but no bones were broken. A sprain can be very severe, causing severe bruising of the foot and an inability to hold weight. In the case of broken ankles, the bones broken in this region could be numerous. If a person cannot stand their own weight on their ankle then it is most likely a broken ankle. The best thing to do if you suspect you have a broken ankle is to get an x-ray to determine the severity of the break immediately. The longer you wait to be diagnosed, the longer the healing process will take and the more injury you can cause. Contact our East Orange office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruce Theall.
The most common cause of a broken ankle is when the foot has rolled over on itself, usually while engaged in exercise, physical activity, or sports. Another common cause is from a jump of great height. It is most important to seek medical treatment if one suspects they have broken ankles. A doctor can determine if surgery is needed in order to heal correctly. Without medical assistance after such an injury, a person may suffer severe arthritis and pain later in life. Also, if one prolongs having treatment, they risk developing non-union fractures, which are fractures that do not heal properly. In some cases, an operation may be the only option to ensure the ability to walk properly again.
Broken ankles will cause severe pain, swelling, imbalance while walking, bruising, tender to touch, and not being able to put any weight on the affected limb. It will help to elevate the feet above your head to reduce blood flow to the injured area, as well as applying ice to the ankles to help decrease swelling. If surgery is required, it usually means an ankle cast for at least three months and then rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can be painful, using atrophied muscles and building tendon strength.
It is important to determine if surgery is needed as a broken ankle can become more severe than you realize. If not professionally treated, the broken ankle bones will inhibit your ability to walk properly. New Jersey podiatrist Bruce Theall can help diagnose and treat your ankle.
For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).