An ankle fracture occurs when a bone on 1 or both sides of the ankle is partially or completely broken. Most ankle fractures are caused by twisting injuries and falls, or injuries experienced during sports or play. Under the age of 50, most ankle fractures occur in men. Over the age of 50, women experience more ankle fractures. The type of fracture varies from simple to complex, and can involve 1 or all 3 bones that make up the ankle joint. It is important to seek treatment after an ankle injury to determine if you have a fracture. Physical therapy shares an important role in your treatment and recovery from an ankle fracture, for a return to normal activity.
What is an Ankle Fracture?
An ankle fracture is a completely or partially broken bone on 1 or both sides of the ankle joint. There are several types of ankle fractures, and 1, 2, or 3 bones may be fractured. The classifications based on the number of bones broken are:
- Lateral malleolus fracture. Only the bone on the outside of the ankle, the fibula, is broken.
- Medial malleolus fracture. Only the bone on the inside of the ankle, the tibia, is broken.
- Bi-malleolar fracture. Two bones are broken, the fibula and the tibia.
- Trimalleolar fracture. Three bones are broken, the fibula, tibia, and the posterior malleolus (the tibia at the back of the foot).
The severity of the fracture is classified as:
- Nondisplaced. The pieces of the fractured bone remain lined up.
- Displaced. The 2 parts of the fractured bone do not line up.
- Comminuted. Splinters or multiple small pieces of bone are found at the fracture site.
- Complex Fracture. The soft tissue surrounding the broken bone is severely damaged.
- Compound Fracture. Fracture fragments can pierce the skin.
When a fracture involves several broken bones or the bones do not remain lined up, the fracture is considered to be unstable and requires immediate treatment. A compound fracture also involves a risk of infection.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
– Instruct you in acute injury care using the RICE formula: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
– Immobilize your ankle by wrapping it with an ace wrap, or applying a stirrup brace to limit motion and control swelling.
– Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
– Instruct you to keep the involved ankle elevated to control swelling.
– Instruct you to walk without putting weight on the injured ankle, using crutches or a walker.
If you have an ankle fracture, treatment will depend on how many bones are broken, and if it is a simple, complex, or compound fracture. Initial treatment involves the realigning and stabilizing of the bones by your physician, and is performed in the hospital emergency room or, if needed, with surgery.
A physical therapist can help treat a broken ankle after it has been treated by a physician and immobilized. After the bone is healed, a physical therapist can help you gain back your strength, motion, balance, and sport skills.
Physical therapy treatment will include:
– Walking Instructions
– Return to Work/Play Activity
– Restoring Ankle Mobility
– Reduce Swelling
– Gait Training
Contact Well Done Physical Therapy in Waco, TX as soon as possible so we can help create an individualized physical therapy regimen to help you recover.
Further Reading from the source:
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) believes that consumers should have access to information that could help them make health care decisions, and also prepare them for their visit with their health care provider.