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Understanding Ankle Fractures and How They are Treated

Did you know that your ankle is more complex than it appears? Far from being a single bone, the ankle is an intricate assembly of three bones that form what is known as a mortise joint. This structure plays a pivotal role in your mobility and requires our attention to understand its vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to fractures.


To give you a sense of how your ankle is built, on the inside of the leg, the tibia ends in the medial malleolus—the noticeable bump on the inside of your ankle. The fibula, located on the outside of the leg, terminates at the lateral malleolus—the bump on the outside of your ankle. Situated between these is the talus.


The medial and lateral malleolus are the most common sites for an ankle fracture, which can occur at one, two, or all three locations depending on the mechanism and severity of the injury. There are several types of fractures, including non-displaced, displaced, comminuted, complex, and compound, each requiring a different approach to treatment. 

Signs and symptoms of an ankle fracture can include:

·         Severe pain following a fall or twisting of the ankle/leg.

·         A popping sensation at the time of injury.

·         Swelling, bruising, or tenderness around the ankle bones.

·         Difficulty or an inability to bear weight on the leg.

·         Visible deformity in the lower leg or ankle.


If you suspect an ankle fracture, it is important to seek immediate care from an orthopedic physician, podiatrist, or emergency department. Prompt treatment is crucial, especially if the bone is exposed, as this significantly increases the risk for infection. An x-ray will be performed to confirm the presence and detail the extent of the fracture, guiding further treatment which may range from stabilization surgery to simple immobilization with a cast or boot.


Physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery following an ankle fracture or post-surgical stabilization. Although treatment plans may vary, especially if surgery was involved, the overarching goals remain consistent: restoring mobility, reducing pain and swelling, normalizing walking patterns, and strengthening muscles to return to normal function. Typically, you may need to wait 6-10 weeks before beginning therapy, allowing enough time for initial healing.


At David Gilboe & Associates, we are dedicated to guiding you through your recovery journey with personalized care and expertise. Whether you're transitioning from surgery or starting rehabilitation after initial healing, our team is here to support and empower you every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation to discuss how we can help you regain strength and mobility and return to your daily activities.

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