Ankle Sprains & Fractures
Ankle sprains and fractures are painful injuries that can make it difficult or impossible to walk and engage in daily activities. The foot and ankle specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics in Cincinnati can effectively treat ankle sprains and fractures to get our patients back on their feet.
- What is an Ankle Sprain?
- Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
- Treatment for Ankle Sprains
- Non-Surgical Treatment for Ankle Sprains
- Surgery for Ankle Sprains
- What is an Ankle Fracture?
- Symptoms of an Ankle Fracture
- Treatment for Ankle Fractures
- Non-Surgical Treatment for Ankle Fractures
- Surgery for Ankle Fractures
- Frequently Asked Questions About Ankle Sprains and Fractures
What is an Ankle Sprain?
A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments that support the ankle. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, and they help to stabilize the joint and keep bones in place. Most ankle sprains are a result of a twisting or rolling injury. There are two types of ankle sprains:
- Eversion ankle sprain: when the ankle rolls outward, resulting in a tear of the deltoid ligaments.
- Inversion ankle sprain: when the foot is twisted up, causing the ankle to roll inward.
The severity of an ankle sprain is measured by grade. The grades of ankle sprains are:
- Grade 1 (Mild): the fibers of the ligament are slightly stretched or there is a small tear.
- Grade 2 (Moderate): The ligament is torn, but not completely.
- Grade 3 (Severe): the ligament is completely torn.
Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
The most noticeable symptom of a sprained ankle is pain. Additional symptoms may include:
Treatment for Ankle Sprains
Non-Surgical Treatment for Ankle Sprains
At Beacon Orthopaedics, we always recommend the least invasive treatment possible that will alleviate a patient’s symptoms and allow their ankle to heal. For a mild to moderate ankle sprain, treatment can often be done at home:
- Rest the ankle
- Ice the ankle
- Compress the ankle with bandages or dressings
- Elevate the injured ankle
- Treat pain and inflammation with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
In some cases, patients will require crutches to help them walk, and the ankle should be immobilized with a brace or cast. Physical therapy is often essential to the healing process for a sprained ankle.
Surgery for Ankle Sprains
Surgery for ankle sprains is rare, and is only performed when an injury does not respond to less invasive treatment or when an ankle remains unstable after nonsurgical treatment. Surgery that may be performed for an ankle sprain includes:
Arthroscopy: Using a tiny camera to look at the ankle joint. This may help identify and remove bone fragments or loose cartilage, or identify parts of the ligament that have not healed properly.
Ankle Reconstruction: In some cases, internal stitches or sutures may be used to repair a torn ankle ligament. Rarely, a damaged ligament is reconstructed with a graft from another ligament.2
What is an Ankle Fracture?
An ankle fracture is commonly referred to as a broken ankle, when a bone in the ankle joint has been broken. There are three bones in the ankle joint:
- Tibia (shinbone)
- Fibula (the smaller lower leg bone)
- Talus (a small bone between the heel, tibia, and fibula
Symptoms of an Ankle Fracture
The pain of a broken ankle is immediate and severe. Other symptoms of an ankle fracture include:
- Inability to put weight on the injured foot
Treatment for Ankle Fractures
Non-invasive treatment is always a priority at Beacon Orthopaedics, whenever possible. In some cases, a minor ankle fracture can be treated by immobilizing the joint with a brace or cast.
Surgery for Ankle Fractures
A serious broken ankle often requires surgery. Depending on the location and type of fracture, a broken ankle may be surgically treated by:
- Removing bone fragments
- Repositioning and realigning bones
- Using screws or plates to stabilize the bone and joint4
Frequently Asked Questions About Ankle Sprains and Fractures
Can a sprained ankle turn into a fracture?
No. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, while a fracture is an injury to a bone.
How long do ankle sprains take to heal?
The length of time it takes for a sprained ankle to heal depends on the location and severity of the sprain. A minor sprain may heal in as little as two weeks, while it may take up to 12 weeks for a severe ankle sprain to heal.
Contact Beacon Orthpaedics
If you are experiencing ankle pain, swelling, and other symptoms, you should have your ankle evaluated by an experienced orthopedic doctor. The foot and ankle specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics in Cincinnati can examine your injury and recommend the most effective treatment to alleviate your pain and help you heal. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
1 Cleveland Clinic. Sprained ankle. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22048-sprained-ankle. Accessed March 25, 2022.
2 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sprained Ankle. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/sprained-ankle/. Accessed March 25, 2022.
3 Mayo Clinic. Broken ankle. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-ankle/symptoms-causes/syc-20450025. Accessed March 25, 2022.
4 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Ankle fractures. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/ankle-fractures-broken-ankle/. Accessed March 25, 2022.