Ankle Fracture Overview
Foot and ankle fractures are commonly seen in the athletic population and can be caused by twisting, falling, direct trauma or overuse. Fractures can occur in one or more bones of the foot and ankle, which may lead to significant pain and dysfunction. Overuse injuries such as stress fractures are also commonly seen in the foot and ankle of runners. Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic ankle specialist in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area, focuses on diagnosing and treating ankle and foot fractures in athletes of all levels.
A fractured ankle can be simple or complex depending on the type of break and are broken down into stable and unstable fracture patterns. Occasionally, patients will suffer a fracture dislocation when the force is severe enough to cause multiple fractures leading to ankle dislocation. Ankle fractures are typically caused by forceful twisting or from a direct blow to the ankle such as in a fall or motor vehicle crash.
There are 26 bones in the human foot, all of which can become fractured during a fall, twist or direct blow from trauma. Foot fractures are classified as non-displaced or displaced. A non-displaced fracture is a fracture where the bone is cracked but does not move away from each other, while a displaced fracture is when the fracture fragments are shifted away from each other making it more difficult for proper healing.
Foot and Ankle Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are characterized as small cracks within the bone caused by repetitive overuse commonly seen in runners. Stress fractures typically occur with increasing activities, such as exercise duration, intensity or adding new activities. If not treated, stress fractures can progress into a true fracture and cause more dysfunction.
Foot and Ankle Fracture Symptoms
Foot and ankle fractures cause pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness that worsen with weight bearing activities and improve with rest.
Foot and Ankle Fracture Diagnosis
Dr. Yau will perform a thorough physical examination in order to determine the precise area of pain, bruising and tenderness. A series of x-rays will be performed to confirm fracture. Occasionally, a MRI is necessary to confirm stress fractures.
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Ankle and Foot Fracture Treatment
Most foot and ankle fractures have the ability to heal on their own without surgery. Dr. Yau will prescribe the appropriate brace or protective device based on fracture location and severity. Patients are encouraged to use ice and pain medications to help alleviate pain and swelling during the healing process.
Ankle arthroscopy may be recommended based on patient’s age, activity level and fracture severity. During surgery, Dr. Yau will reposition (reduce) the bone fragments into their anatomic alignment and stabilize them with pins, plates and/or screws.
For additional information on foot and ankle fractures treatment, please contact the orthopedic office of ankle specialist Dr. Jervis Yau, located in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area.