Ankle Fracture (cont.)
Broken Ankle Diagnosis
A doctor will evaluate the ankle to determine if there is an ankle fracture
or if the joint has been damaged sufficiently to become unstable. Joint
instability often suggests multiple fractures, a fracture with a ligament
injury, or sometimes ligament injury alone.
The doctor will seek a history of the injury and will ask questions to
determine the possible fracture patterns.
- Where does it hurt now?
- How long ago did the injury happen?
- Does the knee, shin, or foot hurt also?
- How did the injury happen?
- Did the ankle turn in or out?
- Did the person hear a crack or a pop?
- Was the person able to walk immediately after the injury?
- Can the person walk now?
- Does the person have any new numbness or tingling in their leg, ankle,
- Has the person had previous ankle fractures, sprains, or surgeries on the
The doctor will perform a physical exam, looking for:
- Evidence of bruising, abrasions, or
- Swelling, bleeding, and tissue damage
- Pain, deformities, and the grinding or movement of broken bones of the
knee, shin, ankle, and foot
- Pain, excess looseness of a joint, or complete tear in ligaments
- Fluid in the joint and joint stability
- Seeking a pulse and looking for injured arteries
- Testing sensation and movement in both the ankle and foot
- Ankle X-rays if a broken bone is suspected (patients should be aware that
only about 15% of ankle pain is from an actual ankle fracture); some physicians
may try to avoid unnecessary and costly X-rays by following certain guidelines
such as the Ottawa ankle rules (see reference 2)
- X-rays of the knee, shin, or foot depending on where pain is; children may
get a comparison X-ray of the uninjured ankle to see subtle changes in growth
plates due to injury.
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