According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, doctors have noticed an increase in the number and severity of broken ankles since the 1970s, due, in part, to the Baby Boomer generation being active throughout every stage of their lives.
The ankle has two joints, one on top of the other, and three bones. A broken ankle can involve one or more of the bones, as well as injury to the surrounding connecting tissues or ligaments.
Causes and Risk Factors
There are a wide variety of causes for broken ankles, most commonly a fall caused by a misstep, an automobile accident, or sports-related trauma. Because a severe sprain can often mask the symptoms of a broken ankle, every ankle injury should be examined by a physician.
Risk factors that lead to a broken ankle are:
- participation in high impact sports
- increasing your activity level too quickly (such as training for a race)
- failing to stretch and warm-up enough before exercise
- wearing unsupportive, worn-out shoes, or incorrect shoes for your sport
- osteoporosis or thinning of the bones
- smoking which can lead to osteoporosis
- post-menopausal and underweight woman - these can also lead to thinning of the bones
- living in a cluttered home (is often a high risk for older adults)
- balance problems
Symptoms of a Broken Ankle
- Immediate and severe throbbing pain
- Difficulty putting weight on the injured foot
- Tenderness to the touch
- Deformity, particularly if there is a dislocation or a fracture
Our doctor will check your range of motion and take an X-ray to determine whether you broke your ankle or have a sprain. Additional imaging such as an MRI may be necessary if it's a sprain but it hasn't healed over a specific amount of time or if the injury is severe. It can also identify fractures not seen on an X-ray.
Treating A Broken Ankle
Treatment of a broken ankle depends on the the location and severity of the fracture. The treatment for a broken ankle usually involves a leg cast or boot if the fracture is stable. If the ligaments are also torn, or if the fracture created a loose fragment of bone that could irritate the joint, surgery may be required to secure the bones in place so they will heal properly.
Preventing A Broken Ankle
Fortunately a lot can be done to prevent a broken ankle. If you're involved in sports it's essential for you to do the following:
- sufficient warm-ups and stretches before exercise
- purchasing shoes that are designed for your sport, replacing them every 500 miles
- build up your exercise routine no more than 10% each week
- participate in other sports to build strength and flexibility in other muscles
- strengthen your ankles if you're prone to ankle sprains or breaks
- make sure the field of play is free of obstacles and divots
In addition it's important to:
- declutter your house
- eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D to build strong bones, particularly post-menopausal women
- get evaluated for balance problems.
Other Painful Ankle Conditions
If you suspect you have broken ankle, call us at the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City so we can get you in to see one of podiatrists. Call us at 206-368-7000.