One of the joints in our body that is most prone to injury and fractures are the ankles. The injuries usually happen at the ankle joint. There are many types of ankle fracture, though, depending on the location and severity of the damage. Treatments also vary according to the kind of ankle injury.

The ankle joint

Like most of the joints in the body, the ankle joint is also a complex one where three bones join together. The bones of the lower leg, the tibia and the fibula are seen on the upper half of the joint whereas the talus is the bone seen below the joint.

The tibia or the shin bone is the weight-bearing bone of the lower leg, and the fibula is the smaller bone on the outside of the leg. The tibia and the fibula wrap around the talus to form the ankle joint.

Stable & unstable fractures

Based on whether the talus sustains its movement or not, fractures are classified as stable and unstable. If the movement of the talus is unchanged the fracture is called stable, and if the movement is altered then it is called as unstable.  The unstable condition means the joint is not held in asymmetric position. An unstable fracture calls for invasive treatment of the fracture.

Types of ankle fractures

The type of fracture is determined based on whether the fracture is to the tibia or fibula or both.

Fracture of the fibula (Lateral Malleolus fracture)

This is a widespread type of ankle fracture. Most of these fractures can be treated without surgery if it is ensured that the ankle joint is stable. A stable condition means even though there is a break tot he bone, the ankle is functioning. But if the ankle joint is not working or a ligament is damaged, surgery is recommended.

Fracture of the tibia (Medial Malleolus Fracture)

The tibia occurs on the inner side of the ankle, and a break to tibia is much more severe than that to the fibula. The inner side of the bone is called the medial malleolus, and a fracture is much less common. If the inner part of the tibia is displaced then it is treatable only through surgery.

Fracture of both fibula and tibia (Bimalleolar Ankle Fracture)

When there is a break to both the inner and outer side of the ankle it is called a bimalleolar ankle fracture. This usually results in an unstable ankle and needs surgical intervention. If the fracture heals in anything less than a perfect position, it will cause arthritis of the ankle, so treatment and healing should be done carefully.

Fracture to the tibia, back of tibia and fibula

This is called a Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture, here the bones of the tibia front and back as well as the fibula will be damaged. The surgery is usually like that for the bimalleolar fracture.

The symptoms

The symptoms of a broken ankle include:

  • Severe pain at the ankle site
  • Progressive swelling
  • General bruising
  • Inability to walk normally
  • Some deformity at the ankle region

Treatment of ankle fractures

The right fracture largely depends on proper diagnosis of the type of ankle fracture. The treatment should begin at the earliest to get the ankle working normally. There are many types of treatment, including surgical and non-surgical, depending on the discretion of the doctor.

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