What is an Ankle Fracture or Ankle Sprain?
Most cracks, breaks, or chips in the ankle bone is considered a fractured ankle. A sprained ankle is an injury where the ligaments have a tear or disruption. These two injuries are different from a broken ankle, which is caused by stressing the ankle joint beyond the strength of its elements.
Fractures can occur because of rolling the ankle in or out, twisting the ankle side to side, or any extreme flexing and extending of the join. Often, you might see people with a fracture due to severe force being applied, by coming straight down on it; think jumping from high levels.
The signs and symptoms of a fractured or sprained ankle can include:
Difficulty Walking on the affected foot or ankle
When to See a Podiatrist
Ideally, if you are experiencing pain or complications in your feet or ankles you should see a Podiatrist immediately. However, we understand not everyone has the type of insurance that allows them to do this. Ideally, after visiting urgent care or a doctor, you request a referral to visit a Podiatrist to ensure proper steps are being taken to identify the injury and create a treatment plan.
A doctor or Podiatrist will examine your feet and ankles, as well as take a complete medical history. They will order tests, including an X-ray, ultrasound, or in some circumstances an MRI. This will help determine the extent of the injury. If you have a fracture that’s clearly visible on an x-ray, you may not need any additional testing. An ultrasound or MRI is useful for finding soft-tissue injuries, torn ligaments, and stress fractures.
The method of treatment depends on the injury. With a broken bone, a Podiatrist may attempt to “reduce” the fracture. What they do is line up the ends of the bones so they can properly heal. And don’t worry, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area first.
In the case that the fracture is unstable, surgery may be needed. A Podiatrist will be able to tell if it’s unstable because the ends of the bones do not stay in place after a reduction. Podiatrists might use metal plates and screw to fix broken bones.
Sprains are treated with a period of immobilization. Depending on the extent of the sprain, you can resume activity fairly quickly, or you might need to wear a soft cast or “boot” and use casts. To help reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation, oral anti-inflammatory medication may be used.
How to Help Prevent a Fracture or Ankle Sprain
Typically, you can take preventative measures to prevent ankle sprains and fractures. Warming up prior to physical activity and wearing proper shoes can help. To help determine which shoes are best for your activities, talk to your Podiatrist. They might even recommend custom inserts. Athletic shoes should be replaced yearly and running shoes should be replaced about every 300-400 miles.
You can help to prevent sprains and fractures by taking a few easy preventative steps. In the case that you do find yourself with an ankle fracture or sprain, visit a Podiatrist immediately to ensure you get the best care possible.
For more tips and tricks from Podiatrists, visit our blog! Total Foot Care and Wellness is here for you.