Patient Guide: Treating a Broken Ankle

Learn how orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists manage common injury

ROSEMONT, Ill. (March 28, 2014) – Many people associate ankle fractures with sports, but you don’t have to be an athlete to develop a serious ankle injury. Ankle fractures, in which there is a partial or complete break in a bone, can happen to anyone. People can break an ankle after a fall, car accident or twisting injury.
Some fractures are small cracks in one or more bones in your ankle. Other fractures involve shattered bones. You may experience pain, swelling and bruising, and your ankle may still be broken even if you can walk on it. People may be first seen in the E.R. or their doctor’s office, but it’s important to be evaluated by an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist to determine what kind of treatment you need.
An X-ray will show what the fracture looks like, which bones are broken, and how separated the bones are,” says David Levine, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist in New York. “An X-ray will also help determine the best treatment.” 
There are several treatments for ankle fractures. The need for ankle fracture surgery depends on how your ankle joint looks on an X-ray and the specific type of fracture. Restoring the alignment of broken bones is important, says Levine. Ankle arthritis can occur if a fracture doesn’t properly heal.
“The main goal of surgery is to help the ankle joint heal with a normal shape,” Levine says. “Once the ankle is put back together, the next step is to regain normal movement. After the bones have fully healed, you may need physical therapy to restore strength, balance and conditioning.”
To read how orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists perform surgery, visit the Ankle Fracture Surgery page at, the patient education site of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). The AOFAS has recently added more than 40 new articles to FootCareMD on other topics of interest, including treatments for plantar fasciitis, high arches and arthritis.
About the AOFAS
promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.​

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle. 
Jennifer Hicks
Director of Public Education