Be it a twisted landing during basketball, a wrong movement on a hike, or an attempt to land on one’s feet when jumping or falling from a height – an ankle fracture can have various causes.
A broken ankle may result in instability that makes surgery and a subsequent complete immobilization necessary. In some circumstances, it can take months or years before the ankle returns to its original stability after an ankle fracture.
Fractured ankle: the most common fracture in the lower extremities
The ankle is a real feat of engineering by nature. During running and jumping, it absorbs many times our body weight. Many people don’t know that, anatomically speaking, there are two joints – the upper and the lower ankle. But what can cause a fracture?
The ankle has been designed for lifting and lowering the forefoot during forwards movements. Lateral movements are supported by the lower ankle, while the upper ankle responds very sensitively to tilting motions and twisting. That is why a wrong landing or putting the foot down in a twisted position often leads to fractures in the upper ankle area. The fibula in particular is particularly prone to fractures because it is firmly fixed in position by the ligaments. This type of ankle fracture is called malleolar fracture, with this term usually being equated with a fibular fracture.
Diagnosis: fractures in the ankle area
Because the ankle’s structure is so very complex, fractures can occur in all sorts of places. During diagnosis, a differentiation is generally made between the following:
- Talar fracture: fracture of the talus (very rare)
- Tibial fracture: fracture of the shin bone
- Fibular fracture: fracture of the fibula (very common)
Furthermore, these fractures can occur in combination. We refer to it as a bimalleolar fracture when, in addition to the outer ankle (fibular fracture), the inner ankle (tibial fracture) is also affected. In cases of a trimalleolar fracture, the rear edge of the supporting tibia is also broken off.
Treatment in cases of a fractured ankle: acute treatment and rehabilitation
For a long-term prognosis, the damage to the joint cartilage and the ligaments is paramount, not so much the fracture itself. The extent of this damage depends, on the one hand, on the accident and is determined by the type of fracture, the degree of the compression, and the extent of the sprain. On the other hand, it is crucial how the fracture is corrected and secured. If the position of the bones is not 100 % correct, the joint will often develop significant wear and chronic instability within a year of the fracture healing. Surgery and a targeted restoration of the stabilizing muscles are therefore hugely important.
If the ankle is broken, it must generally not be subjected toany strain for six weeks to allow the fractured ankle to heal. This results in the stabilizing muscles getting weaker and then being absent in the subsequent load phase. However, for the damage to the ligaments and joint cartilage to heal, movement during the course of treatment is absolutely essential. In practice, immobilizing orthoses are used initially during the rehabilitation phase, followed by muscle-activating ankle supports.
Supports and orthoses provide stability and stimulation
After the immobilization phase with a break from strain, an orthosis, such as from the MalleoLoc range, supports the ankle. It ensures that the ankle will regain its required stability after a fracture and subsequent surgery, and not be subjected to excessive strain. Orthopedic medical products are designed in such a way that they can be worn comfortably during everyday activities, in sneakers or business shoes, for example. Thanks to the orthosis, the foot can carry out its natural heel-to-toe movement and is protected from missteps recurring.
During the course of the rehabilitation phase, active supports are increasingly used for mobilization and muscular stabilization. Our ankle supports are made of breathable knitted fabric that firmly surrounds the ankle. During movement, the medical product exerts intermittent massaging compression.
We recommend wearing an ankle support even after the rehabilitation phase – and not only if there are residual problems. The stabilizing effect reduces the risk of a recurring injury and excessive strain during development training.