Fracture de la cheville : comment la reconnaître, que faire ?

An ankle fracture can occur at any age. How to detect it? What are the causes ? There are treatments to remedy this.


What is an ankle fracture?

The ankle is a joint that serves as a connection between the leg and the foot. It consists of three main bones (tibia, fibula, astragalus) and ligaments. Due to its composition, a sudden movement can lead to an ankle fracture. An ankle fracture is when one or more bones are broken. It may be dislocation. At the level of the ankle, there are two malleolus: internal and external located on either side of the ankle. It is the extension of the bones of the leg. This part of the ankle is usually fractured. The possibilities of fracture are multiple: it can be bimalleolar fracture, double fracture, triple fracture, Maisonneuve fracture, stress fracture, etc.

What are the symptoms of an ankle fracture?

The symptoms of an ankle fracture are diverse: the common point to these symptoms is the severe ankle pain. It may be a swollen ankle, preventing the patient from being able to straighten up normally or walk by leaning on his ankle. In the event of rupture of the ligaments or displacement of the bones, you will notice a deformation of the ankle, sometimes accompanied by bluish or purplish coloring of the sore part. In some cases, pain in the lateral malleolus (bone located at the lower end of the fibula) may be observed, if the fracture is on this side. This may be due to a significant twist of the ankle due to an abrupt movement or event: tripping, falling, etc.

What causes an ankle fracture?

An ankle fracture occurs accidentally. Due to a significant inward or outward twisting of the ankle due to internal factors (poor gesture of the patient, the practice of a sport, the wearing of heels, etc.), external (an accident of the road for example).

What is the difference between a broken ankle and a sprain?

We are talking about an ankle fracture when at least one bone is broken. A sprain refers to an injury to the ligaments, the cause of which may be identical to that of an ankle fracture: excessive twisting of the ankle due to a sudden movement. A sprain is said to be benign when it is not accompanied by bone tearing, or malleolar fracture. It is said to be serious when there is a bone avulsion or fracture.

How is a broken ankle diagnosed?

To determine that it really is a broken ankle, a diagnosis must be made. To do this, the doctor will ask the patient questions from the outset in order to determine the cause of the pain; then, he can perform palpations at the place where the pain is felt to assess the stability or not of the ankle. To complete this analysis, an imaging examination, in particular radiography, is necessary to confirm that we are indeed in the presence of a broken ankle. Other examinations may be performed such as angiography or nerve conduction studies to detect possible vascular or nerve damage from the ankle fracture.

Ankle fracture: what to do?

Before the medical diagnosis: you must apply cold to the painful part, ice cubes will be more than enough, wrapped in a clean cloth. Elevate your leg to prevent blood from pooling in your ankle. Compress your ankle with a cohesive adhesive bandage to immobilize your ankle. Above all, you should not lean on your sore ankle to stand up. This will only aggravate the injury. Then you need to make an appointment with a doctor to make a diagnosis. The latter will inform you of the nature of the fracture. In some cases, if you notice swelling in your ankle, you cannot walk, the pain continues to increase, preventing you from sleeping, for example, you could be taken to the emergency room. After the diagnosis: like any injury, it is recommended to rest and not to strain the sore ankle.

How to treat an ankle fracture?

It depends on the severity of the injury. If the fracture is stable, i.e. the ligaments have not been severely affected or affected, a simple cast is sufficient toimmobilize the leg for about a month, see more. If the fracture is unstable, in this case, more specific treatments will be applied. It may be an operation, followed by rehabilitation. In the context of an operation, it is the orthopedic surgeon who takes care of it.

How long does it take to heal after an ankle fracture?

The healing time depends on the severity of the fracture. Count on average 3 to 6 months in the absence of complications. On the other hand, when the fracture of the ankle is followed by complications, the healing time can be spread over a whole year or even more.

How long can you walk after an ankle fracture?

In the event of a stable ankle fracture, the patient can walk normally again after his cast is removed, usually after six weeks. In the event of an unstable ankle fracture, the time may be longer: generally after three months, or even longer in some cases, however followed by rehabilitation.

What exercises to do during rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation takes several areas into account: pain, joint mobility, leg balance, oedema, ankle musculature, and finally walking. In order to satisfy all these axes of rehabilitation, your physiotherapist will give you exercises to perform at home on a daily basis, in addition to the sessions practiced with him.

For example, it will be a question of:

  • Walk alone, without crutches, at home;
  • Go up and down stairs;
  • Raise the foot for a few minutes, repeating this gesture several times, etc.

What shoes to wear after an ankle fracture?

There are walking boots, which immobilize the leg, and therefore the ankle, in order to improve the healing time or to promote the recovery process of the ankle. There are also safety shoes to protect your malleolus and your ankle. Anyway, shoes with a rigid material will allow you to better immobilize your ankle.

Can an ankle fracture be prevented?

It is possible to prevent an ankle fracture whether you are an athlete or not. L’warming up of muscles and joints for example is a good means of prevention. Making movements at the level of the ankle by turning them several times for a few minutes will be more than enough. The goal is to solicit your ankle when you train before a race for example, a match, or simply go about your business.

It should be noted that among athletes, there is also the preventive surgery in case of unstable ankle fracture. Please note that risks may arise in the event of surgical treatment.

Poorly treated ankle fracture: what consequences?

Attention ! When healing is incomplete:

  • Ankle pain may persist;
  • Can sometimes lead to osteoarthritis;
  • Serious injury can also result from a poorly treated ankle fracture.

Work stoppage: how long?

There are legal reference durations in terms of trauma. The duration of the work stoppage depends on the severity of the ankle fracture, the patient, the type of fracture: fracture of the internal malleolus, external, bimalleolar. Depending on the case, the duration can vary from 10 days to 150 days.


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