A fracture is a partial or full division of a bone. With fractures of the foot and ankle, there are a variety of long-term concerns linked to improper diagnosis including delayed union, deformity, and arthritic symptoms. Many ankle fractures are misdiagnosed as a sprain.
According to the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Association, it is estimated that nearly 25,000 people sprain their ankle daily, doing a variety of activities. It is important that if you are suffering with the following symptoms that you visit a medical professional immediately as these can be signs of an ankle sprain or fracture:
• Severe Ankle Pain
• Issues putting weight on affected ankle joint
• Site of the injury is tender to the touch
• Site of the injury appears deformed
Depending on the nature of the fracture, a medical professional will be able to treat that fracture either surgically or nonsurgically. There are three bones within the ankle joint that can be affected: the Tibia, Fibula, and Talus bones. The classification of the ankle fracture is determined by the location of the break as well as by the affected bones and ligaments.
A fracture of the Lateral Malleolus refers to the fracture of the fibula bone. Depending on the level of ankle displacement and stability, these types of fractures may or may not need surgery. Medial Malleolus fractures occur along the tibia bone which depending on the level of break, may be treatable without surgery. A Posterior Malleolus fracture occurs along the tibia bone closest to the actual ankle joint. This particular fracture is most commonly seen in conjunction with Lateral Malleolus fractures due to the location of connective ligaments. Cases with multiple fractures along multiple bones may require surgical intervention as well as the risk of arthritis in the future when improperly treated.
Fractures can also occur along the midfoot also known as the Lisfranc region. These fractures can also be misdiagnosed as a sprain. If you notice after applying R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to the foot, that it does not improve your overall condition, seek medical attention right away as a midfoot fracture may also require surgery.
A podiatrist will be able to assess the root cause of your injury in order to provide you with the correct course of treatment. Treatments for non-surgical foot and ankle fractures include:
• R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
• Avoidance of weight bearing activities – you may be recommended to avoid putting weight on the affected ankle/foot for 4-6 weeks
• Cast/fracture boot
A podiatrist is experienced with all facets of the foot and ankle including the skin, soft tissue, bone, joint, and the overall biomechanics of the region. With the exception of compound fractures (fractures involving bone protrusion through the skin), which would require a visit to the emergency room, visiting a podiatrist first can be beneficial for long-term foot and ankle health.