Ankle sprains are an extremely common injury, to the point they might be the most common one humans sustain. Less common are ankle fractures. The two injuries would appear to be quite different—a sprain affects ligaments and fractures happen to bones—but the fact of the matter is both have similar symptoms.
In either case, there is bound to be swelling, inflammation, and possibly bruising. Beyond shared symptoms, another commonality between the two ankle injuries is the fact they can happen from the same kinds of accidents.
Twisting an ankle too far can damage connective ligaments. Adding bodyweight to the equation can possibly lead to ankle bones fracturing.
What all of this means is that you may need to come see us for professional evaluation if you have hurt an ankle. We can determine which injury you’ve sustained, and then create a proper treatment plan to address it. When we discuss treatment, patients often want to know what they can expect from the recovery process, especially with regard to timing.
When it comes to recovering from a broken ankle, there are various factors at play which can affect how long it will take the damaged tissues to mend. The severity of the fracture and the specific ankle bone(s) affected both have an effect on the amount of time it will take your body to recover from this kind of injury.
There are various types of breaks that can be sustained in the ankle (as with any part of the body), including:
- Stress fractures – tiny cracks in the surface of a bone
- Simple fractures – the bone is broken, but the fractured ends are still lined up in proper positioning for correct healing
- Complex fractures – the bone has completely broken, become displaced, and pierces through the skin
Treatment methods range—depending on the nature of the injury—from RICE therapy to casts, and all the way up to using screws and plates in surgical correction.
In the case of a stress fracture in any of the bones forming the ankle joints, conservative care methods tend to be rather successful. For simple fractures, the key to caring for the injury is stabilizing the bone and allowing the body to heal itself (without the affected bones shifting out of position). With a complex fracture, surgery is usually required.
As a general rule of thumb, it typically takes at least 6 weeks for bone tissues to mend, but it might take longer for any involved tendons or ligaments to regain their strength. With proper adherence to doctor orders, normal activities can usually be resumed within 3-4 months following the injury.
Of course, every situation is different and it is difficult for you to know exactly what your recovery for a broken ankle will actually look like until you visit our Berkeley office. Once you are here, though, we can give you a proper evaluation and a realistic timeframe with regard to the recovery process.
Schedule your appointment with the office of Yuko Miyazaki, DPM today by calling (510) 647-3744.