Hard falls, sudden twists and unexpected collisions can all result in fractures of the feet and ankle bones. From small cracks to major breaks, TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine specialists treat foot and ankle fractures with advanced treatments to help you heal quickly.
Foot and Ankle Fractures and Dislocations
There are 26 bones in your foot and three in your ankle joint. Breaks in these bones can range from stress fractures that just need rest and time to heal to compound fractures that require surgery to repair.
Ankle fractures and dislocations
Broken ankles may involve the long bone that runs down the front of your calf from knee to ankle (your shin bone or tibia), the smaller bone that runs alongside it (the fibula), or both. A simple ankle fracture occurs when the bone breaks but does not protrude through the skin. A compound ankle fracture happens when the broken bone protrudes through the skin.
An ankle dislocation happens when the ligaments that hold your ankle bones in place are torn or pulled out of place, usually by an injury. This causes the bones to move out of place. Dislocations often happen with a fracture or severe sprain.
While any bones in the feet may break, there are two types of fractures that are most common:
- A break in the long bone along the outside of the foot that connects to your little toe (fifth metatarsal fracture)
- A small bone chip is pulled away from the main part of the bone by a tendon or ligament injury (avulsion fracture)
Dislocations of the foot are rare.
Foot and ankle fracture causes
Fractures and dislocations of the ankle or foot are usually caused by:
- Severe impact
- Stress from overuse
- Twisting or rolling the ankle
Foot and ankle fracture symptoms
Ankle and foot fractures have similar symptoms:
- Bone protruding through the skin
- Bruising that develops soon after the injury
- Change in the appearance of the ankle or foot
- Difficulty walking or unable to walk
- Pain and tenderness at the site of the fracture
- Swelling at and around the fracture location
Foot and ankle fracture treatment
Treatment for a broken foot or ankle will depend on the severity of the injury.
- A broken bone that has not moved out of place generally will not require surgery.
- A broken bone that has shifted so that the ends are no longer properly aligned will need to be reset, which may require surgery.
- A broken bone that is protruding through the skin is an emergency that requires immediate care to prevent infection and other potential complications.
Our team of specialists treat fractures of the foot or ankle using many of the newest techniques. Treatments may include:
- Immobilization with a cast, brace or walking boot to keep the ankle or foot from moving while the fracture heals.
- Minimally invasive arthroscopic ankle surgery that uses a tiny camera and surgical tools to repair the break without making large incisions and allows the surgeon to see and remove small bone chip fragments that could cause arthritis and pain if left behind.
- Surgical repair using plates and/or screws specifically designed for certain parts of the foot or ankle instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Suture-button implants that use two metallic buttons and wire to hold the bone pieces together while they heal.
Foot and ankle fracture risk factors
Factors that may increase your risk of fracturing your foot or ankle include:
- Activities that involve running, jumping or sudden changes in movement
- Loose ligaments
- Past ankle sprain or fracture
- Walking or running on uneven surfaces
Foot and ankle fracture prevention
You can help reduce your risk of fracturing your foot or ankle by taking these precautions:
- Avoid overtraining, which can lead to stress fractures
- Be careful during activities that involve running or jumping
- Minimize walking or running on uneven or slippery surfaces
- Strengthen your ankle muscles
- Wear proper footwear for activities
Make an appointment
To learn more about foot and ankle fractures or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.