Broken ankles or “ankle fractures” are a type of injury that occurs when the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. Ankle injuries are some of the most common bone and joint injuries. The ankle joint is made up of three bones that join. The tibia is the main bone, and it makes up the inside of the anklebone. The fibula is a smaller bone, and it makes up the outside of the anklebone. A membrane called the joint capsule is lined with a layer called the synovium, which covers the entire joint. The synovium produces synovial fluid which allows for the joint surfaces to move.
An ankle becomes broken when the joint is stressed beyond the strength of its limits. When an ankle is fractured, ligaments may also tear at the same time. Fractures often occur to the ankle rolling or twisting in an unusual way. At times, a fracture may even be caused by an extreme force applied to the joint.
Symptoms of a broken ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, discoloration, numbness, and an inability to move the toes. If you have a broken ankle, you may also hear something tear or snap when you initially suffered the injury. If you have pain from a broken ankle, beware that the pain will not always come from the exact area of the fracture; you may also experience pain from associated foot fractures. The swelling you may experience can suggest that soft tissue damage may have occurred due to the injury.
There are differences between an ankle fracture and an ankle sprain. The difference is that a fracture or break in the bone is required to classify an injury as a broken ankle. An ankle sprain occurs when there is a tear or disruption of ligaments in the ankle. In some cases, the prognosis of an ankle sprain may be worse than that of a fracture.
X-rays are the most common way used to diagnose a broken ankle. X-rays show if the ankle is broken and where exactly the fracture is located. It will also show how many pieces of broken bone there are. A second method of testing to see if an ankle is broken is a stress test. To do this, the doctor will put pressure on the ankle and perform a stress test to determine if the fracture requires surgery. Other methods for diagnosis include CT scans and MRI scans.