During the past 30 years, doctors have noted an increase in the number and severity of broken ankles, due in part to an active, older population of “baby boomers,” according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
The ankle has two joints, one on top of the other. A broken ankle can involve one or more bones, as well as injuring the surrounding connecting tissues or ligaments.
Any one of the three bones that make up the ankle joint could break as the result of a fall, an automobile accident or some other trauma to the ankle. A broken ankle may also cause damage to the ligaments. Because a severe sprain can often mask the symptoms of a broken ankle, every injury to the ankle should be examined.
Symptoms of a broken ankle include:
- Deformity, particularly if there is a dislocation as well as a fracture.
- Immediate and severe pain.
- Inability to put any weight on the injured foot.
- Tender to the touch.
Treatment options include a leg cast or brace if the fracture is stable. If the ligaments are also torn, or if the fracture created a loose fragment of bone that could irritate the joint, surgery may be required to “fix” the bones together so they will heal properly.