What is a broken ankle?
A broken ankle involves any fracture of the bones in the lower leg above the foot. When you stress the ankle joint beyond the strength of its elements, you may fracture the ankle. There are different types and severity of ankle fractures, however all need to be treated as soon as possible to ensure a good outcome.
How does a broken ankle occur?
Fractures can occur simultaneously with injury of other tissue including tears of the ligaments, or muscle injury. You can do this in several ways: rolling the ankle in or out, twisting the ankle side to side, or flexing or extending the joint under force. Applying severe force to the joint by landing straight down on it, such as jumping from a high level can also result in a fracture.
Is my ankle sprained or broken? Can you walk on a broken ankle?
Signs and symptoms of ankle injuries and fractures tend to be obvious, but are not always so. Pain is the most common complaint. Other signs and symptoms may include swelling, bruising and deformity. If you are unable to take a minimum of four steps after the injury, and if you have pain directly over the bones (called malleoli) of the ankle, you should present to your health care professional for assessment and treatment.
How painful is a broken ankle?
A broken ankle is likely to very painful, especially to put weight on it. Though an ankle sprain can be very painful too. Your best option is to see your health professional
What do I do if I suspect I might have a broken ankle?
Your health care professional will undertake a number of tests if suspicious of an ankle fracture. They can then refer you for an X-ray as needed to confirm your diagnosis to make sure you have the best outcome possible. If you think the injury might be severe, get to your local emergency department.
What is the treatment for a broken ankle? Will I need surgery?
There is no single treatment for an ankle fracture. Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the fracture. However, usually treatment will consist of a period of immobilisation in a boot or cast to allow the fracture to heal, and non-weight bearing on crutches. More serious injuries may be referred to an orthopaedic specialist for review or possible surgical management.
Can physiotherapy help for a broken ankle?
Immobilisation or surgery following an ankle fracture can leave the ankle weak, stiff or painful. Most people will require some help to get back to their pre-injury activities and function. Your physiotherapist is an expert in managing these injuries, including providing appropriate rehabilitation exercises and treatment to get you back in action as soon as possible.
How long does it take to walk after a broken ankle?
You health professional can guide you on returning to normal activity. A very rough guide for a simple fracture might be six weeks of immobilisation followed by a slow return to pre-injury activity.
At Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions our physiotherapists are experts at assessing and managing ankle conditions. If you need some help following an ankle injury, we can help you get back on your feet.