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Ankle Fracture

What is an Ankle Fracture?

An ankle fracture is a break to one of the bones around the ankle joint. This happens when forces beyond the capacity of the bone is placed on the ankle. They can occur as a result of an ankle sprain or direct blow to the ankle. These fractures may cause pain, swelling and limited function around the ankle. Commonly this occurs in one of the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula), but can also occur to the talus (bone inside the hinge of the ankle).

What causes an ankle fracture

Ankle fractures commonly occur after a severe ankle sprain such as rolling over the ankle, although it can occur after a fall or direct blow to ankle. Typically it is difficult to walk or put weight on the area. Those people with poor bone health are at greater risk of sustaining a fracture. Furthermore fractures will heal, as long as the bones are realigned and given sufficient healing conditions.

How do I know if I have an ankle fracture?

Our physiotherapists will be able to assess the injury and, if they are concerned about a break, they will refer you for imaging, which will commonly be an X-ray. For more serious injuries other scans may be required.  

How can Physiotherapy help with ankle fractures?

After a fracture, the bones must be given time to heal to ensure proper alignment. This may involve being put in a boot or cast, although more serve cases may involve surgery and fixation. Our physiotherapists will be able to decide on how long you will need to rest for. Commonly it takes about 6 weeks for the bone to heal but this depends on the severity of the case. You must ensure you do not put any weight on the affected area for this time.

Once the cast or boot is taken off, some of your joints will become stiff and muscles will become weaker. Our physiotherapists will provide you with a personal exercising program to strengthen your muscles and tendons again. Once you’re progressing well, it is important to work on higher-level function such as running, agility drills and jumping/landing to make sure you get back to the same level and better than before your injury.

What can I do at home?

To ensure the quickest possible recovery, patients must ensure they complete whatever guidelines are necessary to allow maximise healing for the bone.

Once you are allowed to begin moving and exercise, it will be very important to complete all strengthening outlined by your physiotherapist. Hydrotherapy may be used in the early stages of recovery to reduce weight-bearing issues.

How long until my recovery?

Time frames depend on the severity of the injury although commonly it takes around 6–8 weeks for the bone to heal followed by a period of rehabilitation. Regaining full strength, motion and confidence without pain may take up to six months.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

Back to Physiotherapy for Your Ankle

Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.