Due to the ankle’s involvement in all running and jumping activities it is very susceptible to injury. The majority of athletes have experienced at least a minor sprain of the ankle. Ankle fractures are less common but are nonetheless more common than other fractures. Running or jumping on uneven or changing surfaces can lead to ankle fractures. High-impact sports such as football and rugby, where the possibility of forceful twisting of the ankle may occur, also have a high incidence of ankle fractures.
In an ankle fracture, any or all of the bones and ligaments may become involved. Ankle fractures most commonly involve the ends of the tibia or fibula, or both, with some ligament stretching and tearing present was well.
Cause of injury
Forceful twisting or rolling of the ankle can cause the ends of the bones to fracture. Forceful impact to the medial or lateral side of the ankle while the foot is planted.
Signs and symptoms
Painful to touch. Swelling and discolouration. Inability to weight bear. Deformity may be present in the joint.
Complications if left unattended
An ankle fracture that is left unattended can result in incorrect or incomplete healing of the bones. Continued walking or running on the injured ankle could result in further damage to the ligaments, blood vessels and nerves that pass through the joint.
Stop the activity. Immobilize the joint and apply ice. Seek medical attention.
Rehabilitation and prevention
While the ankle is immobilised it is important to keep conditioning levels up by using upper body exercises and weight training. When cleared for activity with the ankle, strengthening and stretching of the muscles of the lower leg is essential for a speedy recovery. An ankle brace may be needed for support during the initial return to activity. Stronger calf and anterior compartment muscles help support the ankle and prevent or lessen the incidence of injuries. Avoid running and jumping on uneven surfaces as much as possible.
Although people who have fractured their ankle tend to have a slightly higher rate of re-injury, proper strengthening and rehabilitation usually lead to a full recovery. Compound fractures or fractures resulting in bony misalignment may require surgical pinning to hold the bone in place while it heals.