Ankle Problems & Treatments

 

Treatment depends on where and how badly your ankle has been broken. A cast may be used to hold the bone in its proper position for healing. Sometimes the sections of broken bone must first be realigned. This is done by a process known as reduction. The type of reduction is based on how far the bone has moved from its normal position.

Sites of common ankle fractures

Sites of common ankle fractures

 

Closed Reduction

If you have a clean break with little soft tissue damage, closed reduction will probably be used. Before the procedure, you may be given a light anesthetic to relax your muscles. Then your doctor manually readjusts the position of the broken bone.

Open Reduction

If you have an open fracture (bone sticking out through the skin), badly misaligned sections of bone, or severe tissue injury, open reduction is likely. A general anesthetic may be used during the procedure to let you sleep and relax your muscles. Your doctor then makes one or more incisions to realign the bone and repair soft tissues. Screws or plates may be used to hold the bone in place during healing.

Casting the Fracture

To make sure the bone is aligned properly, an x-ray is taken. Then the ankle is put in a cast to hold the bone in place during healing. You'll probably have to wear the cast for 4 to 8 weeks. For less severe fractures, a walking boot, brace, or splint may be all that's needed to hold the bone during healing.

The Road to Healing

Once your fracture has been treated, your doctor will tell you how to help it heal. You may be told to limit ankle use, take medications, and elevate the foot. If you have a cast, remember to keep it dry.

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The ankle is one of the most common places in the body for a sprain. Landing wrong on your foot can cause the ankle to roll to the side. This can stretch or tear ligaments. Ankle sprains can occur at any time, such as when you step off a curb or play sports. Once you've had an ankle sprain, you may be more likely to sprain that ankle again.

 

When Ligaments Tear

Your ankle joint is where the bones in your leg and foot meet. Strong bands of tissue called ligaments connect these bones. Muscles run from the lower leg across the ankle into the foot. The ligaments and muscles help keep the ankle joint stable when you move. If you twist or turn your ankle, the ligaments can stretch or tear. This is called a sprain. A sprain can be mild, moderate, or severe. This depends on how badly the ligaments are damaged.

Symptoms

Your symptoms depend on how badly the ligaments are damaged. You may have little pain and swelling if the ligaments are only stretched. If the ligaments tear, you will have more pain and swelling. The more severe the sprain, the less you'll be able to move the ankle or put weight on it. The ankle may also turn black-and-blue, and the bruising may extend into the foot and leg.

 

Treatment will depend on how bad your sprain is. For a severe sprain, healing may take 3 months or more.

Right After Your Injury: Use R.I.C.E.

Rest: At first, keep weight off the ankle as much as you can. You may be given crutches to help you walk without putting weight on the ankle.

Ice: Put an ice pack on the ankle for 15 minutes. Remove the pack and wait at least 30 minutes. Repeat for up to 3 days. This helps reduce swelling.

Compression: To reduce swelling and keep the joint stable, you may need to wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage. For more severe sprains, you may need an ankle brace or a cast.

Elevation: To reduce swelling, keep your ankle raised above your heart when you sit or lie down.

Medication

Your doctor may suggest an oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. This relieves the pain and helps reduce any swelling. Be sure to take your medication as directed.

Contrast Baths

After 3 days, soak your ankle in warm water for 30 seconds, then in cool water for 30 seconds. Go back and forth for 5 minutes. Doing this every 2 hours will help keep the swelling down.

Exercises

After about 2-3 weeks, you may be given exercises to strengthen the ligaments and muscles in the ankle. Doing these exercises will help prevent another ankle sprain. Exercises may include standing on your toes and then on your heels and doing ankle curls.

Ankle Curls

  • Sit on the edge of a sturdy table or lie on your back.

  • Pull your toes toward you. Then point them away from you. Repeat for 2-3 minutes.