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Broken ankles are a serious injury that can lead to an inability to walk, function, and also cause a significant amount of pain. A broken ankle is a break in one of the three bones in your body that connect at the ankle joint: the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The tibia and fibula are your two primary leg bones that connect at the knee, which sit directly upon the talus bone. This is protected by a fibrous membrane that allows for movement in the ankle joint. A broken ankle is usually caused by the foot rolling under or twisting too far, causing one of these three bones to snap.
A broken ankle is different from an ankle sprain, which occurs when the ankle ligaments are ripped or torn but no bones have been broken. A sprain can still be very severe, causing bruising in the foot and an inability to hold your own weight, much like a broken ankle would. If you’re unable to stand, and suspect that you have a broken ankle, the first thing to do would be to get an immediate X-ray to determine the severity of the break.
A common cause of broken ankles is when the ankle is rolled over with enough pressure to break the bones. This usually happens during exercise, sports, or other physical activity. Another common cause is a fall or jump from a tall height.
One immediate treatment for pain relief is elevating the foot above your head to reduce blood flow to the injured area. You can also apply ice packs to your ankle to help reduce swelling, redness, inflammation, and pain. After these initial steps, getting a cast and staying off your feet as much as possible will aid in the recovery of the broken ankle. The less movement and stress the ankle has to endure, the more complete it will heal. A doctor can determine if surgery is needed in order to heal correctly. In these cases, an operation may be the only option to ensure the ability to walk properly again, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.
It is highly important to determine if surgery is needed early on, because a broken ankle can become much more severe than you realize. If not professionally treated, the broken ankle will inhibit your walking, daily functioning, and produce a large amount of pain. Treating your broken ankle early on will help prevent further damage to it.