Your ankle is a complex joint that forms the connection between your lower leg and foot. Your ankle is flexible and strong, allowing you to navigate any terrain.
An ankle fracture significantly impedes your ability to go about your normal routine.
At MidJersey Orthopaedics in Flemington, Bridgewater, and Washington, New Jersey, we offer comprehensive foot and ankle care, specializing in diagnosing and treating ankle fractures. We consider an ankle fracture a medical emergency. Proper care of your broken bone from the start helps you heal faster.
In this month’s blog, we want to discuss the different ankle fractures and how we treat them.
The ankle bones
You have three main bones in your ankle:
- The tibia (shin bone)
- The fibula (smaller lower leg bone)
- The talus (the small bone under the tibia and fibula above the heel bone)
The end of the tibia is made up of two parts: the medial malleolus (inner ankle bump) and the posterior malleolus (back side of the tibia). The lower end of the fibula is called the lateral malleolus (outer ankle bump).
These medical terms are important to know because we use them when diagnosing ankle fracture type.
Is my ankle broken?
An ankle fracture hurts — a lot — but so do other ankle conditions like ankle sprains and arthritis. In addition to severe pain, ankle fractures may cause:
- Discoloration and bruising
- An unstable joint
- Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg
You may also have a noticeable deformity and coolness or numbness in the feet.
Our team offers on-site imaging to confirm an ankle fracture and determine the type.
Ankle fracture types and treatments
Our foot and ankle specialists classify ankle fractures as displaced, nondisplaced, or open based on the condition of your bone.
A nondisplaced fracture means the bones are in their usual position; a displaced fracture is when the bone pieces separate; an open fracture is when the bone pierces the skin.
We also evaluate your fracture based on the bones involved to classify the injury into a type. Types of ankle fractures and treatment include:
1. Medial malleolus fracture
A medial malleolus fracture is a break of the inner ankle bump. If you have a nondisplaced fracture, we immobilize the ankle bone with a cast or walking boot. For a displaced fracture, we may perform surgery and realign the bones using pins and screws and immobilize the joint to support healing.
2. Lateral malleolus fracture
Treatment for a lateral malleolus fracture, the prominent bump on the outside of your ankle, is similar to treatment of the medial malleolus fracture. Immobilization or surgery is the treatment protocol, depending on whether the break is nondisplaced or displaced.
3. Posterior malleolus fracture
Posterior malleolus fractures are breaks in the tibia. Minor fractures typically don’t require surgery and heal with a walking boot or short cast. However, surgery is necessary if the fracture is displaced or severe.
4. Bimalleolar fractures
A bimalleolar fracture is a break in the media and lateral malleolus bones. This is a severe ankle fracture and usually requires surgery using plates and screws to keep the bones in place.
Though uncommon, some bimalleolar fractures are stable and may only need immobilization.
5. Trimalleolar fractures
A trimalleolar fracture affects the three malleolus bones — medial, lateral, and posterior. This type of ankle fracture almost always requires surgery.
It can take several weeks or months for an ankle fracture to heal. Getting the proper diagnosis and fracture care from the start ensures a faster recovery. Call our office today or request an appointment online.