What is an ankle fracture?
The ankle joint is composed of 3 bones:
- tibia (shin bone),
- fibula and
An ankle fracture refers to breaks near the enlarged ends of the tibia and fibula (you can feel these large bony points on either side of your ankle). This area of the bone are known as the 'malleoli'. Fractures may involve breaks in either malleoli or both together, and in certain serious fractures the talus will be involved. The talus is the first bone of the foot which connects to the leg bones (tibia and fibula).
Ankle fractures are common injuries that are most often caused by your ankle joint rolling inward or outward.
The treatment of an ankle fracture and the time taken to heal will depend on many factors, including:
- the type of ankle fracture and whether there is dislocation
- where the bone is broken,
- how many of the bones are broken
- the condition of your skin over the fracture.
A common way of classifying fractures is the Weber System. This system is based on the relationship between the two large bones – the fibia and tibula. Just above the ankle joint, these two bones are joined by a strong band of tissue called the 'syndesmosis' - a key stabilising feature of the ankle joint.
The first type of ankle fracture, the Weber A, shows breaks in the bones below the syndesmosis. As the syndesmosis is intact and the fibula and tibia are stabilised against each other, Weber A fractures are typically fairly stable and heal well with a simple cast. In contrast, the Weber B and C types will frequently require surgery to stabilise them.
The treatment of your ankle fracture can either be:
- a simple plaster cast
- surgery with typically a combination of screws and plates.