Broken Ankle Symptoms

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					                           Broken Ankle


What is the definition of a broken ankle?
There are two bones that are commonly referred to as the ankle
joint; the tibia and the fibula. When there is a break in one or both
of these bones, it is considered a broken ankle. In orthopedics, the
terms broken and fractured are used interchangeably and often
describe the same injury.

What causes a broken ankle and what symptoms are expected?
There are many things that can happen that will result in a broken
or fractured ankle. Four examples are falling, being injured while
playing contact sports or exercising, and being hit in the ankle by
someone or something. If an ankle is broken one may experience
pain, tenderness, and swelling and sometimes a deformity in the
ankle itself. Hours to days after the initial injury the skin on the
ankle may look discolored or bruised. In addition, when an ankle
fracture occurs one may hear a snapping or popping noise at the
time of injury along with loss of movement to the ankle. In rare
cases there may be an open wound in addition to the ankle fracture.

How is a broken ankle diagnosed?
A diagnosis of a broken ankle can be determined by the health care
provider reviewing the symptoms, asking what caused the injury
and by examination. In addition, different xray views of the bone
will be ordered to determine the exact location of the fracture. The
severity of the injury is determined by the type of fracture.
      1. If the broken pieces of bone are still properly aligned, the
fracture is considered nondisplaced.
      2. If the broken pieces are not properly aligned, the fracture is
considered a displaced fracture.
      3. If one end of the bone has broken through the skin, the
fracture is an open fracture.
      4. If the bone does not break the skin, it is considered a
closed fracture.
      5. If a portion of the bone is pulled away from where it was
originally attached by muscles or ligaments, it is an avulsion
fracture.

How do you treat a broken ankle?
After an ankle is fracture, the immediate treatment is
immobilization, elevation above the heart, wrapping it with an Ace
wrap to provide compression and applying ice packs to the area. If
the orthopedic surgeon determines that the bone is adequately
aligned, a cast will be applied to the ankle. Depending on the
severity of the fracture, one may begin to walk in the cast after a
few weeks. However, if the bone is not able to be aligned properly,
surgery may be done prior to putting the cast on. To help reduce
swelling and inflammation, the ankle is to be kept elevated above
the heart on pillows for the first 2 weeks after the injury. In
addition, placing ice packs on top of the cast for 20 to 30 minutes
every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days will help with the swelling.

When should a health care provider be contacted?
   1. If swelling above or below the fracture occurs and does
      not respond to elevation.
   2. If the toenails and/or foot are discolored even after
      elevation.
   3. If a loss of feeling in the skin occurs and does not resolve
      with elevation.
   4. If pain is not improved by elevation or pain medication.
   5. If a burning pain under the cast occurs.



When can sports and normal activities be resumed?
Timing of return to sport activities can be variable depending upon
the type of fracture and will be determined by the orthopedic care
provider. The primary goal of rehabilitation is to return to normal
activities as safely as possible. If normal activities are resumed too
soon, it may lead to more or permanent damage. During rehab, the
ankle will be healing and the strength and range of motion will
improve. The health care provider will determine the criteria that
must be met prior to resuming activities.

How can a broken ankle be prevented?
There are many options and ways to prevent an ankle fracture:
     1. When exercising, make sure the shoes that are worn fit
        properly and correctly.
     2. Before and after participating in physical activities stretch
        to loosen the muscles.
     3. If extremely tired, do not participate in recreational sports
        like football or baseball.
     4. Before engaging in any strenuous activities think safety
        first.

				
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posted:8/30/2009
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