Ankle Fractures

A broken ankle is a very common injury and is usually treated in A&E after a traumatic injury.

But broken ankles can be more complex than a simple break, affecting other structures and potentially causing displacement of bones, leading to ongoing problems such as arthritis.

At Capital Orthopaedics, our consultant orthopaedic surgeons specialise in providing a thorough assessment of your ankle condition, using state of the art diagnostic equipment. We offer physiotherapy and minimally invasive treatments to ensure a fast recovery with resilience against future injuries.

Contact us to make an appointment for fast, effective treatment of a fractured ankle or any other ankle conditions.

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What is an Ankle Fracture?

Your ankle joint is made up of the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (slim calf bone that connects to the outside of your ankle joint) and the talus (bone in the middle of your ankle).

Ankle bones are usually fractured as a result of a traumatic injury, causing immediate pain and swelling, often accompanied by bruising and instability.

What Causes an Ankle Fracture?

The most common cause of an ankle fracture is a twisting injury – rolling over on your ankle can cause a break at the base of the fibular or the tibia.

An ankle fracture can also be the result of an impact, often seen in contact sports or in a car accident.

 

What Are the Symptoms of an Ankle Fracture?

Fractured ankle symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising at your ankle joint
  • Inability to move your ankle through its normal range of motion
  • Inability to bear weight on your injured ankle
  • A “crack” or “snap” in the ankle at the time of injury
  • Ankle deformity.
  • Fractured bone may be visible through broken skin

What Are The Different Types of Ankle Fractures?

The type and severity of an ankle break depends on the amount of force that caused it. Displaced fractures – where the bones have been forced out of place – usually require immediate surgical intervention, while undisplaced fractures may often be treated non-surgically. Other factors, such as damage to ligaments and tendons, can impact your treatment.

 

Types of ankle break injuries include:

  • Lateral malleolus fracture: break at the bottom of the fibula – these are the most common type of ankle fractures and happen when you roll onto the outside of your ankle (inversion).
  • Medial malleolus fracture: break at the end of the tibia, where it forms a bony lump on the inside of your ankle. This usually happens when you roll onto the inside of your ankle (eversion).
  • Bimalleolar ankle fracture: a break at both knobs in the ankle – the fibula (lateral malleolus) and tibia (medial malleolus). These fractures almost always require surgery.
  • Posterior malleolus fracture: a break at the back of the tibia (shin bone), which usually happens at the same time as a lateral malleolus fracture.
  • Trimalleolar fracture: all three parts of the ankle are fractured, which include the medial (inside), lateral (outside), and posterior (back) malleoli. Like a bimalleolar fracture, this usually requires surgery.
  • Pilon fracture: a break in the main shaft of the tibia (shin bone). This usually also involves a fibula fracture and damage to the underlying talus. The cartilage covering the talus is often damaged as well, with a chance of arthritis developing.
  • Maisonneuve fracture: an ankle sprain and a break in the upper part of the fibula (near the knee).
  • Syndesmotic injury: the syndesmosis joint is located between the fibula and tibia. It’s held in place by ligaments, and a fracture of the bone here almost always involves ligament damage, too.

How Can An Ankle Fracture Be Treated?

Most ankle breaks involve damage to other structures, particularly ligaments, which can get stretched, torn or pulled out of their anchor points in the bone.

Non-surgical treatments

Many simple ankle breaks can be treated conservatively, using a cast for 4-6 weeks, followed by physiotherapy to build up strength and support damaged ligaments, tendons and other soft tissue as they heal.

Surgical Treatments

More complex fractures and those with related ankle damage, such as a ruptured ligament, may require surgery. Surgery is almost always required in the following cases:

  • Medial malleolus fracture: a break at the end of the tibia (on the inside of your ankle) usually require surgery because the lining of the bone, the periosteum, folds into the fracture site at the time of the injury and prevents the bone from healing.
  • Bimalleolar ankle fracture: a break at both knobs in the ankle, which includes the fibula (lateral malleolus) and tibia (medial malleolus). These almost always require surgery to repair.
  • Displaced fractures: displaced bones may require pinning and ligament reconstruction to hold them in place as they heal.

How Capital Orthopaedics can treat your broken ankle

Ankle fractures are not always straightforward, especially if you have been involved in a collision or fall from height. Even a rolled ankle can lead to ongoing ankle pain if not treated properly.

Our team, led by orthopaedic surgeon Simon Moyes, has decades of experience in diagnosing and treating all types of ankle fracture and ankle injury.

Contact us to book an appointment and get on the road to recovery after an ankle fracture.

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Other Ankle Conditions We Treat

Ankle Osteoarthritis

Repetitive impact, injury or ageing can lead to damage to the surfaces of your bones. The smooth cartilage coating can wear away or get torn – and the exposed bones begin to degenerate. As your bones try to heal, they can also form lumps called bone spurs. Osteoarthritis in your ankle leads to soft tissue damage, pain, swelling and instability as the muscles around it weaken.

Posterior Impingement

Pain in the back of your ankle may be caused by soft tissue getting pinched between the bones as you point your toes. It’s common in ballet dancers, footballers, gymnasts and fast bowlers, but can also be the result of a sprain or chronic ankle instability. In some cases, it can be treated conservatively; bone spurs and thickened tissues may require surgery.

Peroneal Subluxation

The tendon that runs under the bony lump on the outside of your ankle can get displaced – particularly after a sprain. This can lead to pain and swelling, along with instability. Physiotherapy to build up the muscles and improve stability can solve the problem. Arthroscopic surgery is often needed to fix the tendon back in place.

Torn Ankle Ligament Injury

A sprained ankle can usually be treated with physiotherapy to build up strength while the torn ligament heals. Serious tears, chronic ankle instability, or those associated with other conditions may need surgery to repair ligaments, the smooth damaged bone and stabilise your ankle.

Achilles Tendon

The tendon that attaches your calf muscle to your heel bone (calcaneus) can get torn as a result of a forceful action – such as sprinting from standing, or jumping without warming up – or suffer microtears as a result of repeated stress. Some Achilles tendon injuries can be treated non-surgically, while complete ruptures can be repaired using minimally invasive surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced medical professionals – from Mr Simon Moyes, the renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon, to physicians, nurses, anaesthetists and physiotherapists.
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