An ankle fracture is a break in 1 or more ankle bones. These fractures may:
Severe ankle fractures may require surgery. Fractures that may need surgery if:
When surgery is needed, it will likely involve using metal pins, screws, or plates to hold the bones in place as the fracture heals. The hardware may be temporary or permanent.
You may be referred to an orthopedic (bone) doctor. Until that visit:
Without surgery, your ankle will be placed in a cast or splint for 4 to 8 weeks.
You will need to learn:
To reduce pain and swelling:
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, and others). You can buy these medicines without a prescription.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) is a pain medicine that is safe for most people. If you have liver disease, ask your doctor if this medication is safe for you.
You may need prescription pain medicines (opioids or narcotics) to keep your pain under control at first.
Your doctor will tell you when it is OK to place any weight on your injured ankle.
You may need to have your duties at work changed if your job requires walking, standing, or climbing stairs.
At a certain point, you will be switched to a weight-bearing cast or splint. This will allow you to start walking. When you start walking again:
Your doctor may do x-rays 7 to 10 days and 1 month after your injury to see how your ankle is healing.
Your doctor will let you know when you can return to regular activities and sports. Most people need at least 6 to 10 weeks to fully heal.
Call your doctor if:
Also call your doctor if you have questions about your injury or your recovery.
Managing Your: Ankle Fracture. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2014:appendix V.
Ankle fractures. In: Eiff MP, Hatch RL, eds. Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 13.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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