When you suffer an ankle sprain or fracture

A fracture (or broken bone) is a disruption, or break, in a bone. Some fractures, called stress fractures, are microscopic, and these can usually be treated by restricting activity on the limb that is broken. 

Types of Fractures

Fractures can be classified in several different ways, including:

  • "Torus" or "greenstick" fractures, in which the bone is not broken all the way around. These always occur in the bones of children, which are less brittle than those of adults.
  • Breaks in which the bone is broken all the way around, but one piece is not displaced (moved away from) the other piece. These usually occur in mature, adult bones.
  • Breaks in which the bone is broken all the way around and displaced. Displaced fractures usually require surgery.
  • Open/Closed Fractures. Open fractures mean the bone has protruded through the skin

There are three main bones that might be involved in an ankle fracture: medial or lateral malleolus; the posterior lip of the tibia; and/or the talar dome. The ligaments of the ankle joint may also be dislocated and/or ruptured.


Ankle fracture is usually caused by a sharp blow or unusual stress to the bone or an unnatural rotation or twisting, such as caused by a sudden change in direction. It is a common injury in sports such as football, soccer, and distance jumping.


The most obvious symptom is acute and immediate pain in the ankle. The victim may sense a popping or tearing feeling, and a popping sound may be heard at the time of the fracture. Walking is difficult or impossible, and swelling and bruising are immediate in the foot and ankle. There may also be deformity, and if the break is open, the bone may be visible, protruding through the skin.


A physician’s care is required to address this problem. A cast may be all that is necessary. Surgery to pin broken bones is often but not always required, so an accurate diagnosis is essential. Physical therapy after removal of a cast or brace is also usually needed. In severe ankle fractures, ankle replacement surgery may be required.