Ankle fractures are among the most common injuries treated by orthopedic surgeons. However, not all ankle fractures are the same. There is a broad range of injury patterns that vary in severity and treatment. The best way to determine the correct course of treatment is to see a doctor who specializes in ankle fractures.

Today, it is estimated that half a million ankle fractures are treated every year in the United States. Ankle fractures can occur in any age group, regardless of the patient’s health status, but there are certain risk factors that increase your risk. These risks include:

• Age (older)
• Sex (female)
• Smoking
• Obesity
• Osteoporosis

To learn more about broken ankle surgery or to schedule a consultation with top orthopedic surgeon Sonu Ahluwalia, MD, call us today. Our number is 310.430.1310.

Types of Ankle Fractures

The diagnosis of a broken ankle encompasses everything from a simple break in one bone, which may not stop you from walking, to several fractures, which forces your ankle out of place. The more bones that are broken, the more unstable the ankle becomes. There may be ligament damage as well. The ligaments of the ankle hold the anklebones and joint in position. The type of fracture and the treatment of choice will largely depend on the type and severity of the fracture.

Common types of ankle fractures include:

Lateral Malleolus Fracture

The lateral malleolus is the bump on the outer part of the ankle and is made up the fibula bone.

Medial Malleolus Fracture

The medial malleolus is the bump on the inside of the ankle and is made up of the tibia bone.

Posterior Malleolus Fracture

The posterior malleolus is the bony prominence of the tibia. It is rarely injured on its own.

Bimalleolar Fractures

Two bones are fractured, most commonly the lateral malleolus and the medial malleolus.

Trimalleolar Fractures

All three malleoli (medial, lateral and posterior) bones of the ankle are broken.

Ankle Fracture Causes

Unlike many other bones in the body, the ankle joint does not need a high impact injury to break. Fractures of the ankle are seen in common scenarios, such as getting your foot stepped on or landing awkwardly. Some other common causes of ankle fractures include:

• Twisting or rotating your ankle
• Rolling your ankle
• Fall from heights
• Motor vehicle accidents

Broken Ankle Surgery Procedure

If the fracture is out of place or your ankle is unstable, the injury will likely require surgical treatment. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During broken ankle surgery, Dr. Ahluwalia makes an incision over the ankle to access the underlying structures. The anklebone fragments are then placed back in their normal position. They will be held in place with special screws and/or plates. In some cases, a screw or rod is used to keep the bone fragments together while they heal. The incisions are then closed after the surrounding muscles, tissues, and tendons are reattached.

Recovery from Broken Ankle Surgery

Following your broken ankle surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery room. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to return home on the same day, or following a short stay in the hospital. There are several aspects of your recovery that Dr. Ahluwalia will discuss with you, including:

  • Medication – Painkillers, antibiotics, and other medications may be prescribed. It is important to complete the course of medication as prescribed.
  • Diet – You may feel nauseated for the first 24 hours after surgery. This is a result of the lingering effects of anesthesia. During this time, drink only clear liquids. You should be able to resume a normal diet after the nausea subsides.
  • Splint Care – It is important to keep the post-operative splint clean, dry, and intact. Do not attempt to remove it.
  • Activity Restrictions – You can move about on your own, but do not attempt to put any weight on the affected ankle. Use your crutches when you move around.
  • Recovery Tips – After surgery it is important to keep the ankle elevated. This will decrease swelling and pain.
  • Follow-Up Appointment – Dr. Ahluwalia will want to assess your recovery 1-2 weeks after the procedure.

Is It an Ankle Fracture or Ankle Sprain?

A severe ankle sprain can often mimic a broken ankle. An ankle sprain means that the ligaments that keep the ankle stable have been stretched or torn. Sometimes a torn ankle ligament is just as important as a broken bone. Every ankle injury should be evaluated to determine severity and treatment. Common symptoms for a broken ankle include:

  • Immediate and severe ankle pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Deformity, particularly if the ankle joint is dislocated as well

If you have injured your ankle, you should begin at-home treatment. The acronym, RICE, describes what you should do to treat the symptoms of a sprained or injured ankle at home:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Other considerations for initial treatment and relief of symptoms include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Compression bandages
  • An active ankle brace may help with ankle support
  • Crutches for support while walking

Contact a Broken Ankle Surgeon in Beverly Hills

Have you suffered an ankle injury such as a sprain or break? Dr. Ahluwalia is a leading expert in broken ankle surgery. Contact his office today to set up your appointment.