Ankle Fracture (Broken Ankle)

There are three bones that make up the ankle joint; tibia (shin bone), fibula (smal bone on the outside) and talus (the bone that moves up and down). When a doctor talks about an ankle fracture, they are usually referring to a break in the tiba and/or fibula. A fracture of the talus is very rare.

You break your ankle if you twist it badly. There are different types of ankle fractures. Essentially they can be split into:

Stable Fractures
In these type of fractures, the way the bones break means it is very unlilkely that they will move out of position. If the ankle is rested and/or supported, then the majority of the time the fracture heals.

Unstable Fractures
The bones in these types of fractures are at an increase risk of moving out of place. These fractures usually need to be stabilised, either with a cast or often with an operation.

I think I’ve broken my ankle

If you go over on your ankle and you experience pain and swelling but are still able to walk, you may have an ankle sprain. These will usually settle with Rest, Elevation, Ice and Compression (RICE). If this is not improving in a day or two, you should contact your GP.

If you hear a crack, are unable to walk, have significant swelling and bruising, you may have fractured your ankle.

You should attend your nearest Accident and Emergency Department, where you will be examined and possibly, but not always, have an x-ray performed.

Depending on what the triage nurse or doctor finds, you may be given a boot, put in cast or referred to the Orthopaedic Surgeons for surgery.

Only in very specific cases does surgery on the ankle have to be performed urgently.

As long as the position of the bones is satisfactory and held in place, usually with a backslab, surgery can safely be delayed for around a week.