Broken ankles are a common injury, as well as one of the most common types of fractures—particularly among people who play sports or enjoy maintaining an active lifestyle. Whether you consider yourself a serious athlete or play on a company or community team, an ankle fracture can leave you in pain and sitting on the sidelines.
Fortunately, with proper treatment from an experienced sports podiatrist, a broken ankle doesn't have to interrupt your goals—or athletic progress—in the long term. Here's what you should know about these injuries, including how Dr. Sarah Stewart of Grandville Foot and Ankle can help you heal so you can safely return to the sports you love.
Common Causes of Sports-Related Ankle Fractures
A fracture can occur if you twist, rotate, or roll your ankle; trip and fall; or sustain a sudden impact—any and all of which can happen while playing sports. Other sports-related causes and risk factors for broken ankles include:
- Playing high-impact sports, such as soccer, basketball, football, gymnastics, or tennis
- Wearing old, poorly fitting, or unsupportive athletic shoes
- Using sports equipment improperly
- Failing to use proper training techniques, like warming up and stretching
- Suddenly increasing the frequency, duration, or difficulty of activity
Types of Fractures
The three bones that make up the ankle joint can break in a variety of combinations, leading to a wide range of different types of fractures, categorized by the number and position of breaks. Some of the most common kinds of ankle fractures include:
- Lateral malleolus fracture. A break of the bony bump on the outside of the ankle.
- Bimalleolar ankle fracture. A break involving fractures of the knobby bumps on the inside (medial malleolus) and outside (lateral malleolus) of the ankle.
- Trimalleolar ankle fracture. A break with fractures in the tibia's medial malleolus, as well as the lateral malleolus and posterior malleolus of the lower tibia.
- Pilon fracture. Also known as plafond fractures, a pilon fracture is a break through the middle part of the lower tibia.
Ankle fractures can be further categorized according to whether they're displaced. A non-displaced fracture indicates that, despite the break, the ankle bones are still aligned in the correct position. Conversely, displaced fractures are breaks in which the affected bones are fragmented, separated, or misaligned.
Broken ankles can cause an array of temporarily debilitating symptoms, such as significant pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness to the touch. You may also have difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected ankle, or notice a visible deformity.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Ankle fractures and soft-tissue injuries like strains and sprains share many of the same symptoms. As a result, a podiatrist will perform a thorough physical examination and may take advantage of CT scans, MRIs, or other types of radiology imaging in order to diagnose your fracture and come up with a treatment plan. Depending on the type and severity of the break, treatment options can include:
- Medications to relieve pain and reduce swelling
- Immobilization with a cast or special boot
- Reduction to manipulate the pieces of a displaced fracture back into the right positions
- Surgery, which may require the use of plates, rods, or screws to hold the broken bone in place while it heals
Providing the Highest Standard of Care in Podiatric Sports Medicine
At Grandville Foot and Ankle, our exceptional podiatrist Dr. Stewart is dedicated to making sure your ankle fracture heals correctly, so you can get back to the sports and athletic activities you enjoy. We can also offer advice to help you avoid ankle breaks in the future. Don't wait another minute to take the first step toward healthier feet and ankles.
Schedule an Appointment
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stewart. Complete the contact form or call 616-534-3920 and we'll be in touch as soon as possible.