Ankle Fracture

What is a fracture?

A fracture (FRACK-cher) is a broken bone. When one or more bones of your ankle joint are broken, you have an ankle fracture. A fracture can happen in several ways. A fall can twist the ankle and cause a fracture. A forceful blow to the lower leg or ankle area can also cause a fracture. Your ankle and foot may become bruised and swollen.

Types of ankle fracture

Non-displaced fracture

When the broken bone or bones stay in their normal position, you have a non-displaced fracture. This type of ankle fracture can usually be treated by putting a cast or splint on the broken ankle. You wear the cast or splint until the fracture heals.
 
You may need to walk with crutches or a walker until the fracture heals. Your doctor and physical therapist will tell you how much weight, if any, you can put on your broken ankle.
 
For the first 2 to 3 days after the splint or cast is put on, keep your leg raised above the level of your heart as often as possible. It is very important to keep your leg raised. After 2 or 3 days, if your ankle or foot becomes swollen, keep your leg raised as often as possible.

Displaced fracture

When the broken bone or bones are knocked out of normal position, you have a displaced fracture. In this type of fracture, the broken bones must be brought back into their normal position. This is called reduction (ree-DUCK-shun).

If the fracture is not too severe, your doctor may be able to line up the bones properly without surgery. No incision is made. This is called a closed reduction. Sometimes a closed reduction is done in a hospital’s Operating Room or in the Emergency Department.

In some cases, surgery is needed to line up the bones properly. This is called an open reduction because an incision is made. Your doctor also may need to use pins, screws, or a plate to keep the bones in the right position.

You will wear a splint or cast to keep the bones lined up until the fracture heals. You also will need to walk with crutches or a walker until the fracture heals. You may not be allowed to put any weight on your broken ankle. Or you may be allowed to put some weight on your ankle. Your doctor and physical therapist will tell you how much weight, if any, you can put on your broken ankle.

For the first 2 to 3 days after the splint or cast is put on, keep your leg raised above the level of your heart as often as possible. It is very important to keep your leg raised. After 2 or 3 days, if your ankle or foot becomes swollen, keep your leg raised as often as possible.

When to call the doctor

If you have any of the following, call your doctor:

  • Increased pain, pressure, or swelling that is not relieved by raising your injured leg above heart level
  • Burning, numbness, or tingling in the toes or foot of the injured leg
  • Cooler feeling in the toes of the injured leg than in the toes of the other leg
  • Change of color in the toes of the injured leg (other than bruising)
  • Drainage from your cast that has a bad odor
  • Fever of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Chills

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com