During the course of a typical day, you could be applying tons of total force on your feet and ankles just by walking. A lot of that force is absorbed by the 26 bones found in each foot and ankle. That’s a lot of trauma during the course of every day, and foot fractures can be rather commonplace, including ankle fractures. Houston Foot Specialists can provide the diagnosis and treatment plan you need for this injury.

Ankle Anatomy

Your ankle enables you to do what needs to be done and what you enjoy doing, and that makes it an extremely value part of the body. There are actually two joints colloquially known as the “ankle” – the subtalar joint and the true ankle joint.

The subtalar joint is responsible for allowing the foot to move in a lateral (side-to-side) fashion and is located at the point where the calcaneus (heel bone) meets the talus (ankle bone). Conversely, the true ankle joint enables vertical (up-and-down) movement of the foot and is formed where the two lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula tibia) meet the talus.

Types of Ankle Fractures

Broken ankleBroken ankles can range in severity—which is used in classifying the injury—and location; any of the bones in these joints can be broken. Various types of fractures include:

  • Minimally-displaced fractures – Only slightly out of position and with broken ends that line up, this is the least severe break you might experience. In most cases, surgery is not needed and the bones will stay in their proper location throughout the healing process.
  • Displaced fractures – These are identified by bone tissue that has fragmented and is not aligned for correct healing. If the bone is broken in more than one spot, it is called a compound fracture. Bones that are highly-displaced are usually unstable and will frequently need to be surgically corrected, so the fragments line up correctly for normal healing.
  • Open fractures – As is the case with any bone that breaks through the skin, the risk of infection and other complications is heightened. There is also an increased risk of the open fracture causing damage to the soft tissues (ligament, tendons, muscles) in the joint.

In the majority of cases, a talus breaks in its “neck” (mid-portion), although it isn’t uncommon for damage to be found along the “lateral process” (the outside edge of the bone). The tibia and fibula can break at the enlarged end nearer the talus, or further up in the narrower sections of the bones.

Causes and Symptoms of a Broken Ankle

In many cases an ankle breaks as a result of a high fall, auto accident, or another high-impact collusion. The fracture happens from the forces entailed with physical trauma. Sports injuries can also cause a broken ankle, and some small breaks can happen merely from a severe twist of the joint.

As is the case with any type of broken bone, acute pain is the main symptom. There will likely be inability or severe difficulty with walking or even simply bearing weight. Other symptoms include bruising, tenderness, and swelling.

Ankle Fracture Treatment and Recovery

Treatment for a fractured ankle will, naturally, depend on the injury’s classification. As previously noted, there is usually no need for surgery when treating a minimally-displaced fracture. Instead, rest, rehabilitation, and casting are potential components of an effective treatment plan. Even when casts are used, it is important to limit the amount of pressure the affected ankle faces.

With open and displaced fractures, surgery is often necessary to realign broken bone fragments and stabilize the area. Recovery takes a variable amount of time, and we will let you know what to expect in this regard for your particular injury. The recovery process begins with some slight movement activities, followed by progression to physical therapy. Ultimately, efforts will be ramped up to full weight-bearing.

Foot and Ankle Fracture Treatment in Houston, TX

Anyone is at risk for a potential fracture in a foot or ankle. When you suspect a broken foot or ankle, contact Houston Foot Specialists. We will diagnose the injury and then prescribe an effective treatment plan. Call our Houston, TX podiatrist office (713) 467-8886 for more information.