Charlotte University Podiatrist Explains How to Identify a Fractured Ankle

March 10, 2017

Many people who know that they have suffered some sort of injury to their ankle can’t tell whether they’ve fractured their ankle or simply sprained it before they’ve had a chance to visit heir local foot surgeon. They have either received a blow to their ankle or felt something happen while they were playing sports or even jogging.

Symptoms of a Fractured Ankle

The ankle is painful to touch, and the patient may notice swelling, bruising and skin discoloration around the ankle. In some cases the ankle is clearly deformed because of the broken bones. In either case, the ankle won’t be able to move normally.

Ankle fractures vary in severity. In some cases the bones are not displaced or are just slightly displaced. These types of fractures do not require foot surgery, and the Harrisburg podiatrist only needs to stabilize the joint. In other cases, the bones have been so fractured and displaced that the patient will need foot surgery. The foot doctor can tell how badly the ankle has been fractured through examining the patient’s ankle and taking X-rays.

What to Do In Case of a Fracture

A person who thinks they have fractured their ankle should stop their activity immediately and follow the RICE procedure. This means they should:

  • REST it.
  • ICE it.
  • COMPRESS it.
  • ELEVATE it.

The patient should also immobilize the joint. A cold compress should be applied around the ankle for between 20 and 30 minutes to keep down the swelling. It is a good idea to leave the compress on, and wrap a crepe bandage around the ankle. Start from just beneath the toes’ proximal phalanx bones, and wrap up to the knee. Then, the patient should seek medical help.


If the fracture is mild, our Harrisburg podiatrist can put the ankle in a splint then in a cast after the swelling goes down. The patient wears the cast for about six weeks. They will most likely need to use crutches for a period of time. The doctor will also prescribe painkillers.

For a more serious fracture, the doctor may have to reposition the ankle before it is put in a cast. Surgery may be indicated. If the fracture is treated immediately, the patient should make a full recovery.

Leave a Reply