Foot & Ankle Fractures

What Are Foot and Ankle Fractures?

Foot and ankle fractures refer to broken bones in the foot or ankle. A foot fracture is a break in one or more of the 2826 bones in the foot. An ankle fracture is a break in one or more of the three bones in the ankle joint, including the tibia (shinbone), fibula (outer ankle bone), and talus (the bone that connects the leg to the foot).


What Causes Foot and Ankle Fractures?

Foot and ankle fractures are commonly caused by rotational injuries, such as that which may occur due to twisting, turning, or rolling the lower limbs in the wrong way when walking or running. These fractures may also be caused by high-force impact. Football, basketball, tennis, soccer, and gymnastics are examples of activities that commonly lead to foot and ankle fractures.


What Are the Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Fractures?

Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of foot and ankle fractures. Foot fractures and ankle fractures share many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Bruising
  • Deformity of the foot or ankle
  • Difficulty walking
  • Pain that worsens with activity and decreases with rest
  • Sudden throbbing pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness


What Are the Most Common Types of Ankle Fractures?

There are several types of ankle fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The most common types include:

  • Lateral malleolus fracture. This is the most common ankle fracture. It is a break of the lateral malleolus, which is the knobby bump on the outside of the ankle.
  • Bimalleolar ankle fracture. This is the second most common type of ankle fracture. It is a break in both the lateral malleolus and medial malleolus—the latter of which is the knobby bump on the inside of the ankle.
  • Trimalleolar ankle fracture. This fracture is a break in three sides of the ankle: the medial malleolus of the tibia, the lateral malleolus, and the posterior malleolus, which is in the lower part of the tibia.
  • Pilon fracture (also called a plafond fracture). This fracture usually occurs due to trauma such as a fall, and affects the weight-bearing “roof” of the ankle, or the central portion of the lower tibia.

Ankle fractures can be nondisplaced or displaced. In a nondisplaced fracture, bones are broken but maintain their correct positions and alignment. In a displaced fracture, the broken parts of bones are separated or misaligned.


How Are Foot and Ankle Fractures Diagnosed and Treated?

Foot fractures and ankle fractures are usually diagnosed with an X-ray. In some instances, a CT scan or MRI may be performed to help the podiatrist understand the full scope of the injury.

Mild fractures that are stable and have no displacement can usually be treated using a splint, leg cast, or walking boot. Some patients are able to walk right away while using these supports, while others may need crutches.

Moderate to severe fractures in which bones or bone fragments are misaligned may require surgery to prevent malunion, which is when bones heal improperly, resulting in deformity and other complications.

Treatment for foot fractures and ankle fractures is usually based on bone alignment and joint stability. The goal of treatment is to help the bones heal as best as possible to prevent instability, malunion, arthritis, and deformity.

Contact The Foot Doc today at (480) 744-6234 to request an appointment for the treatment of a foot or ankle fracture, or for any other podiatric foot and ankle condition.

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Call: (480) 744-6234 to request an appointment