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Bone Fracture

Broken Ankle and Broken Foot

bone fracture copyFractures of the foot and ankle are very common injuries. A fractured bone is considered the same as a broken bone. The ankle joint is composed of three different bones that come together to form the ankle.

  • Tibia: The larger, weight bearing, of the two bones in the lower leg that is located medially, or in the middle of the leg.
  • Fibula: The smaller, non-weight bearing, bone of the two bones in the lower leg is laterally located, or to the outside, and runs parallel to the tibia.
  • Talus: The bone of the foot that sits below the tibia and fibula.

Together, the tibia and fibula create an arch that rests on top of the talus. The point at which these three bones meet is considered the ankle joint.

A broken ankle usually refers to a break of either the tibia or fibula. The foot itself is made up of 26 bones, including the talus, and if one of these bones fractures, a fractured foot has occurred.

What Causes Foot and Ankle Fractures?

Fractures of the foot and ankle most commonly occur when an outside force acts on the bone that causes it to bend, twist, or be crushed. Acute injuries such as this usually happen by rolling an ankle, a car accident, or an athletic injury.

Fractures that result from chronic use over an extended period of time are most commonly referred to as stress fractures. A small crack develops in a bone of the foot or ankle from stress. Not surprisingly, this injury is common among distance runners and other endurance athletes. Increases in frequency, intensity, and duration of any type of physical activity can be common factors associated with a stress fracture.

While stress fractures are common among athletes, they can be found in sedentary individuals indicating low bone density or osteopenia.

Symptoms of a Broken Foot or Ankle

  • Pain that increases with weight bearing activities and subsides with rest
  • Tenderness over the area of the stress fracture
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • In more severe cases one may notice a deformity of the bone or can see the bone protruding through the skin

Treatment of a Fractured Foot or Ankle

Treatment of a fractured foot or ankle varies greatly, as there are numerous types and different degrees of severity. Our physicians at American Foot and Leg Specialists evaluate each case and determine what treatment will best serve each individual. Most commonly, treatment will consist of some type of immobilization of the fractured bone to allow it to rest. A cast, a removable brace, or a stiff-soled shoe is often used to immobilize and reduce stress on the fractured bone. Utilization of crutches is often necessary to further reduce stress on the injured area, allowing it rest and heal. Additionally, medication is often prescribed to help reduce pain and inflammation in the area.

In more serious cases, surgery is sometimes necessary to maintain the integrity of the bone and fix the bone in place with pins, plates, or screws. These may be removed following surgery.