Foot & Ankle Fractures
Our feet and ankles are being used everyday for various daily activities. Hence, injuries to the foot and ankle are very common.
The ankle is made up of 3 bones that meet at the ankle joint: the tibia, fibula and talus. The ankle joint where these 3 bones meet are encased by a joint capsule, which contains synovial fluid. This synovial fluid is important as it allows for smooth movement of the joints. The ankle is surrounded by ligaments, which help to stabilise it.
Ankle fractures occur when the bones in the ankle break and separate.
The foot is a complex structure of the body, consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles.
Muscles, ligaments and tendons in the foot help stabilise your foot and allow for complex movement and motions. As there are many bones in the foot, fractures can occur at many locations in the foot, such as toe fractures, metatarsal fractures or calcaneus fractures.
Another type of fracture that can occur in your foot is a stress fracture, which develop due to stress overtime.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of a foot or ankle fracture can include:
- Immediate severe pain
- Swelling, bruising and tenderness to the touch
- Deformity in the affected joint
- Unable to walk or bear any weight on the injured foot
- Pain with movement of the foot/ankle
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS?
Common causes of an ankle fracture include:
- Twisting the ankle
- Rolling the ankle
- Direct blow to the ankle
- Tripping or falling down
Common causes of a foot fracture include:
- The bones of your feet are crushed or met with extreme force, such as a car/trolley rolling over your foot and a heavy object dropping onto your foot
- Tripping and falling
- Overuse such as running for long periods of time
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the ankle and foot will be conducted by the Doctor.
Imaging tests will be taken, such as x-ray to show the location of the fracture and the extent of the injury. A CT scan and MRI scan may also be taken for the doctor to understand more about your fracture and view the ligaments and soft tissues that surround the injured area. It may even help to locate fractures that are not seen on the x-ray.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Depending on the severity of the injury, the treatment options will vary.
The type of treatment depends on the location and extent of the fracture. Nonsurgical treatments include:
- Pain-relief medications
- Wearing a short leg cast for your ankle to protect and hold it in position while it heals.
- Walking supports such as crutches will help to take weight off the fractured ankle
- A walking boot or cast to keep the ankle in place for bone healing
- Reduction if your bones have shifted out of alignment
- Physiotherapy to improve your muscle strength and flexibility, as muscles and ligaments are usually stiff during recovery.
If nonsurgical treatments fail to help, surgery may be recommended, especially if the fracture is severe. During surgery, the bone fragments are being realigned and held together with metal rods, screws or plates.