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Ankle Fracture (cont.)

Can I care for a broken ankle at home?

If a person suspects an ankle fracture, call a doctor or go to a hospital's emergency department immediately. Until a person can get to a hospital or doctor's office they may try the following:

  • Stay off the injured ankle to not to injure it further.
  • Keep the ankle elevated to help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Apply cold packs to the injured area to decrease swelling and pain. Do not apply ice directly. Cold packs are effective for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) is ideal for ankle injuries because it acts as both a pain medicine and a medicine to decrease inflammation.

What is the medical treatment for a broken ankle?

  • Doctors usually place a splint on the injured ankle for a few days to 2 weeks until the swelling decreases around the joint. The type of fracture and the stability of the fractured joint will determine the type of splint (cast or walking boot) that will be used, or whether surgery is needed.
  • Some minor ankle fractures do not require a splint or cast. In these cases the fracture will be managed as an ankle sprain.
    • Because these fractures are very small, they heal well with this management.
    • With any injured ankle, however, a person should not bear weight until advised to do so by a doctor or orthopedist.
  • After the swelling decreases and the patient is reexamined, an orthopedic doctor or a primary care doctor may place a better-fitting cast on the ankle. Depending on the type of fracture, the patient may be placed in a walking cast, which can bear some weight, or the patient may need a non-weight-bearing cast that will require the use of crutches to assist with walking.
  • Depending on the degree of pain, the doctor may prescribe pain medication. The patient should use the pain medication only as needed. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while using these medications.
  • Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2015

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