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Ankle Fracture (cont.)

Broken Ankle Medical Treatment and Surgery

  • 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 that will be used, or whether surgery is needed.
  • If the ankle bones are not aligned properly and/or dislocation is suspected, the doctor may realign them before placing the splint.
    • If the bones cannot be realigned properly in the emergency department, the patient may require an operation.
    • Surgery may also be needed if any bone has broken through the skin. If the bone breaks through the skin, the fracture is called a compound fracture. This is more serious than a simple fracture.
  • 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 12/16/2013

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