Brief Outline of Ankle Fracture
The ankle joint is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body. The majority of athletes have experienced at least a minor sprain of the ankle. Ankle fractures are less common, but nonetheless more common than other fractures. Due to the ankles involvement in all running and jumping activities, it is very susceptible to injury. Running or jumping on uneven or changing surfaces can lead to ankle fractures. High impact sports such as football and rugby, where the possibility of forceful twisting of the ankle may occur, also have a high incidence of ankle fractures.
Anatomy and Physiology of Ankle Fracture
The ankle joint, is a hinge joint, and comprises the tibia, fibula, and talus bones. The ankle joint articulates between the distal tibia, the medial malleolus of the tibia, the lateral malleolus of the fibula and the talus. These bones are held together by a series of ligaments. In an ankle fracture, any or all of the bones and ligaments may become involved. Ankle fractures most commonly involve the ends of the tibia or fibula, or both, with some ligament stretching and tearing present as well.
Cause of Ankle Fracture
Forceful twisting or rolling of ankle can cause the end of the bones to fracture. Forceful impact to the medial or lateral side of the ankle while the foot is planted.
Signs and Symptoms of Ankle Fracture
Pain to touch. Swelling and discolouration. Inability to bear weight. Deformity may be present in the ankle joint.
Complication If Left Ankle Fracture Unattended
An ankle fracture that is left unattended can result in incorrect or incomplete healing of the bones. Continued walking or running on the injured ankle could result in further damage to the ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves that pass through the joint.
Immediate Treatment for Ankle Fracture
Stop the activity. Immobilise the joint and apply ice. Seek medical attention.
Rehabilitation and Prevention of Ankle Fracture
While the ankle is immobilised, it is important to keep conditioning levels up by using upper body exercises and weight training. When cleared for the activity with the ankle, strengthening and stretching of the muscles of the lower leg is essential for a speedy recovery. An ankle brace may be needed for support during the initial return to activity. Stronger calf and anterior muscles help support the ankle and prevent or lessen the incidence of injuries. Avoid running and jumping on uneven surfaces as much as possible.
Long-term Prognosis for Ankle Fracture
Although people who have fractured their ankle tend to have a slightly higher rate of re-injury, proper strengthening and rehabilitation usually lead to a full recovery. Compound fractures or those in misalignment may require surgical pinning to hold the bone in place while it heals.