Did I Injure My Ankle?

An ankle fracture means one or more bones are broken. The fracture usually occurs due to twisting or an accident. Ankle injuries can occur in any age group and can either be simple or complex. Depending on the severity of the injury, sometimes ligaments may be affected as well. An ankle fracture can be confused with other injuries such as a sprain or dislocation, therefore further investigation is required.

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What are the possible signs and symptoms of an ankle fracture?

The symptoms of ankle fracture depend on the severity of the injury. The common signs and symptoms include extreme pain, swelling, bruising, and deformity. A person may also experience difficulty walking and tenderness. If one experiences these symptoms after a fall or injury, consult a healthcare provider immediately.

How do physicians differentiate ankle fractures from other types of ankle injuries?

When a patient encounters an ankle injury, the doctor will take a detailed medical history and physical examination. During the physical examination, the healthcare provider will check for pain, tenderness, movement, and gait. To further investigate, the doctor will order radiological tests such as X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scan. The initial test for any injury is an X-ray of the affected ankle. If the X-ray does not show a fracture, then other tests such as a bone scan are carried out.

The available treatments to fix the ankle bones back together

Once the doctor checks the severity and stability of the injury, the type of treatment will be decided. Fractures that are mild and stable are treated with conservative treatments such as pain medications, reduction, and immobilization. The doctor will also suggest avoiding putting weight on the affected side for some weeks. If the fracture is unstable, then surgery is advised and sometimes, the doctor will require using pins and screws. The recovery time varies but usually takes about 6 weeks and the doctor will continuously monitor the injury.

The possible risks and complications after an ankle surgery

After fixing the ankle fracture via surgery, some patients may face possible complications. The possible general complications include infection, bleeding, damage to adjacent vessels, and blood clots. The specific possible complications related to ankle fracture include arthritis, bone healing difficulty, and pain from screws. If any of these complications happen after the surgery, consult the doctor as soon as possible to avoid further consequences.

The period of rehabilitation

After any type of treatment, the healthcare providers will advise on rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is a treatment that helps to strengthen the muscles and to resume regular activities. Doing regular physical therapy and home exercise programs will help people recover much faster. The full recovery including the ability to walk without limping takes months but varies for every patient.

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