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Ankle Fracture Treatment and Recovery

A broken ankle isn’t something you ever want to happen — however, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Not only does this type of injury cause pain, it can also lead to permanent complications if you don’t get prompt treatment. 

At Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, our team is ready to help you get back on your feet after an ankle fracture. Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, our orthopedic surgeon, specializes in foot and ankle problems, like a broken ankle. Dr. McAlister treats your ankle fracture properly, so you can get on the road to recovery.

Symptoms of an ankle fracture

Broken ankles put a strain on your everyday life since they make standing or walking difficult or impossible. You can break your ankle through a lot of different circumstances, including falls, sports injuries, or trauma to your leg. However, it can also be the result of certain medical conditions like osteoporosis.

If you think you’ve suffered a broken bone in your ankle, you may note a lot of pain in the area with a large fracture, or just a small ache with a small fracture. However, there are other symptoms that can indicate a broken ankle, including:

You may also notice that you have trouble putting weight on the affected ankle, because the bones are unstable. If you have any of these symptoms, an ankle fracture is the likely cause, but it must be diagnosed with an X-ray.

Treatment options for a broken ankle

If you’ve suffered an injury and Dr. McAlister suspects a fracture in your ankle, he may order imaging other than an X-ray to get a better look at your joint. This may include either an MRI or a CT scan to rule out other injuries in your ankle as well.

Once he determines that your ankle is broken, there are several treatment options he suggests, depending on factors such as location and severity of the fracture. For example, if your ankle fracture is relatively mild, and your bones are stable, he might just recommend casting or a brace to keep it stable.

On the other hand, if your ankle fracture isn’t stable, or you’ve broken the joint in more than one place, Dr. McAlister recommends surgery to repair the break. Surgery is reserved for cases where your ankle doesn’t have a good chance of healing with just bracing or splinting.

Surgery usually involves Dr. McAlister stabilizing your fracture with stainless steel or titanium plates and screws while you’re under anesthesia. He uses X-ray imaging during your procedure to make sure your bones are aligned properly while he’s placing the fixation devices.

What’s recovery like?

You may need to be non-weight bearing for a little while if you’ve had surgery, to make sure your bones heal properly with the plates and screws. You don’t want to put weight on your leg until Dr. McAlister says it’s okay, to prevent further damage to your ankle.

No matter if your ankle fracture requires surgery or just a cast or brace, Dr. McAlister recommends starting physical therapy to improve your recovery, and lessen your chances of problems down the road. 

Physical therapy also helps you to regain strength and mobility in your ankle after it’s been immobilized during the healing process. This type of therapy is very important to getting back full mobility in your ankle joint after it’s been broken.

It takes at least six weeks for the broken bone in your ankle to heal; however, it could take longer if there’s tendon or ligament involvement as well. If you’re active in sports, it could be anywhere from a few months to a year before you can get back to your normal level of activity.

When you’ve suffered an ankle fracture, get treatment as soon as possible. Call either of our convenient locations at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or book an appointment online with us today.

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