Article by Dr. Misako McLeod, DPM
Ankle fractures are common injuries and range from simple non-dislocated or displaced fractures to severe fractures that involve dislocation, breaking the skin with the bone (open fractures) and dislocations.
Sometimes, ankle fractures are hairline, and some people have the misconception that because they are able to walk after their initial injury, that they didn’t break their ankle. However, many times, patients are able to walk on the broken ankle for several days before seeking medical advice.
There are several types of ankle fractures and the treatment depends upon the type of fracture and its severity. Some fractures require simple casting, whereas other fractures require surgery and the placement of screws and plates. Sometimes there is significant swelling after the injury, so the patient is placed in a soft splint to reduce the swelling and prepare the skin for surgical intervention. Sometimes the swelling is so bad, that surgery needs to be delayed several days to allow the soft-tissues to decrease in swelling before any surgery can ensue.
In the worst cases scenario, if the skin is broken by the bone, the patient will require varying degrees of antibiotics to prevent infection.
After surgery or casting, Dr. McLeod refers all her patients to physical therapy to help rehabilitate the ankle, to restore range-of-motion, improve balance, and normalize the gait. Dr. McLeod typically starts patient on a regimen of home based exercises for strengthening and to reduce swelling (edema).
Postoperatively, patients may receive the following depending upon the patient’s needs.
Dr. McLeod does not recommend taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. Studies have shown that these medications are not good for fracture healing. You will be prescribed pain medication to control your pain.
Every 2 weeks, you will see Dr. McLeod and you will have your cast changed and x-rays will be taken to evaluate the healing of the bone.
At about 6 weeks, you will be transitioned in to a CAMboot and will start range-of-motion exercises and protected weight bearing in the boot.
Dr. McLeod creates an individual treatment plans for all patients, so your post-operative recovery plan maybe different from another patient’s.
Factors which prolong healing and recovery may include:
Overall, however, most patients recover successfully and get back to the quality of life they had before their injury. As with any injury, there is always a chance of developing post-traumatic arthritis in the future, as well as painful hardware. If the hardware becomes uncomfortable, the hardware is easily taken out.
Call 1-844-442-FOOT for an appointment today!