Emergency rooms are seeing an uptick in ankle injuries, and fractures (broken bones) account for about 15 percent of them. It is a relatively common injury, particularly in active adults participating in sports. The ankle is what allows the foot to move up and down and side to side. It takes just one wrong step to cause a fall, twist, or turn that may lead to a fracture.
The ankle is a complex structure, so fixing it takes expertise. Ankle surgery to repair fractures is aspecialty at Prime Surgical Suites.
What is Involved in Ankle Surgery?
There are two surgeries done to stabilize and heal an ankle fracture: open reduction and internal fixation. The procedure necessary depends on the type of injury and damage.
Three bones make up the ankle joint:
- Tibia - the bone in the shin
- Fibula - A small bone in the leg
- Talus - A bone in the foot
These three bones come together to make the joint. A fracture could break one of these bones, or it could damage all three. With some fractures, the bones break cleanly, so they still line up correctly. With others, the pieces of bone might not connect as they should.
An open reduction gives the surgeon access to the bones to line them back up if necessary as long as they broke neatly. When realigned, they can heal to reform the bone.
Internal fixation is necessary when the break isn’t as clean. The surgeon will use screws, plates, rods, wire, or nails to reconnect the bone pieces. That allows the bone to heal correctly.
What to Expect With Ankle Fracture Surgery
The first step in any surgical procedure is paperwork. You sign documents that give the surgeon and care team permission to work on your body. You will also provide insurance and other financial information.
Next, you will get general anesthesia to ensure you sleep during the procedure, so you won’t’ feel anything as the surgeon does the repair. In certain situations, the anesthesiologist may opt for local anesthesia and provide medication to help you relax. For example, this might be an option for someone with a history of a bad reaction to general anesthesia.
The care team will prep the site then the surgeon will make a series of small incisions to access the broken bones. With the bones realigned, the surgeon will close the incisions. Your ankle will go into a splint to aid healing as you recover at home.
Recovering From Ankle Surgery
You can expect it to take up to six weeks for your ankle to heal in the splint. After six weeks, you can generally swap the sprint for a boot or cast.
You must keep your weight off the ankle as it heals. During this time, you will likely use an assistive device to get around, such as crutches.
The physical therapist will help you through exercises to improve ankle mobility and allow you to return to your normal activities once healing is complete.
Be patient because it can take some time to get your ankle back to full use. Having an experienced surgeon will help, though.
AtPrime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.