How do I Treat an Ankle Fracture?

wiseGEEK Writer

An ankle fracture occurs when one of the ankle's bones is broken. Any break has the potential for healing incorrectly if it is not treated properly and right away, and in most circumstances, people without medical training are not qualified to provide the right treatment. Moreover, unless the fracture is open with the bone sticking out, it’s impossible to tell degree of damage, and expert medical advice is needed to diagnose the fracture's severity. It’s recommended that people treat an ankle fracture by providing preliminary support and then proceeding to the nearest medical facility or getting emergency help if the fracture is open and appears to require immediate treatment.

Creating a splint to treat an ankle fracture should not be attempted if medical help is nearby.
Creating a splint to treat an ankle fracture should not be attempted if medical help is nearby.

The person should not keep standing on the broken ankle, but the degree to which he/she can stand on the affected leg may say something about the level of injury. Not being able to bear weight on the fractured leg is an indication of severe sprains and most breaks. It helps, when possible, to have the person lie down and elevate the foot, particularly when unsure about the level of injury. In most cases these decisions should be only preparatory to arranging transport to a hospital.

A person with a fractured ankle.
A person with a fractured ankle.

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Most people should not attempt to create a splint to treat an ankle fracture if medical help is nearby. If the fracture is open, washing and covering the wound with anything but sterile cloths is also not advised, unless medical help is far away. In virtually all cases, if a fracture is suspected, the only treatment should be safely getting a person to the hospital, either by car or via emergency transport if the injury looks severe.

It is especially important that people treat an ankle fracture right away, if the wound is open or if the ankle no longer looks straight and is clearly bent in some way. These injuries need immediate reduction and may require surgery. Additionally, people with these kinds of fractures may be in very serious pain and alleviating that pain as soon as possible is an excellent goal.

In medical settings, doctors can treat an ankle fracture in a variety of ways. The type of fracture and its severity tend to be diagnosed with x-rays or other scans. After diagnosis, doctors determine treatment.

When doctors treat an ankle fracture, this could include resetting a bone, surgically or non-surgically. Profound and open fractures almost always require surgery. Once a bone is set, people may wear casts or braces to immobilize the ankle for many weeks until bone healing is complete. With severe injury some people will need to remain in a cast for a long time, and might require pain relief support or physical therapy to fully regain range of motion.

Discussion Comments


Anyone who thinks that he or she has an ankle fracture should never risk walking on it. Get off it immediately and get to a doctor. Otherwise, continuing to walk on a potentially fractured ankle could result in the need for surgery to correct instead of just a cast.


The biggest mistake that people who have had ankle fractures make is that they rush their recovery time and end up doing activities that they shouldn't do. Any kind of activity that puts weight on the ankle before a doctor says that it is o.k. is a bad idea.

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