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Ankle Fracture

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Ankle Fracture

(Broken Ankle)


An ankle fracture is a break of a bone in the ankle joint. The joint is made up of three bones. The ligaments that support the ankle may also be damaged.

Ankle Fracture.

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The most common cause is when the joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. It may be also be caused by trauma from:

  • Falls
  • Twists
  • Blows
  • A motor vehicle accident

Risk Factors

Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Playing some sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing
  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles


Problems may be:

  • Ankle pain
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Problems putting weight on the foot
  • Problems walking


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. You will be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect a break based on exam.

Pictures of the ankle will be taken to look for a break. This can be done with x-rays or a CT scan.


It may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. The goals of treatment are to manage symptoms during this time. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • A cast to prevent the ankle from moving as it heals
  • Crutches to take weight off of the ankle as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion


Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may prevent some falls. This may be done through diet and exercise.

Putting Bones Back in Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—a plate, screws, or rod may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place




  • Ankle fractures (broken ankle). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/ankle-fractures-broken-ankle.
  • Ankle fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/ankle-fracture-emergency-management.
  • Jensen CM, Serritslev R, et al. Patients perspective on treatment and early rehabilitation after an ankle fracture: A longitudinal qualitative study. Internat J Orthop Trauma Nurs 2022;46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijotn.2021.100916.
  • Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/stress-fractures-of-the-foot-and-ankle.


  • Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.