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Ankle and Foot Fractures

Ankle and foot fractures occur when one or more of the bones in the foot or ankle break. Fractures can range from tiny stress fractures to breaks that pierce your skin. The more bones that are broken, the more painful and unstable your foot and ankle will be.

What causes an Ankle or Foot Fracture?

Ankle and foot fractures can happen to anyone at any age. They’re often the result of an injury that happens by:

  • Twisting or rotating your ankle
  • Rolling your ankle
  • Tripping or falling
  • Dropping something on your foot
  • Impact during a car accident

How do you know you have an Ankle or Foot Fracture?

A severe ankle sprain can feel the same as a broken ankle, so every ankle injury should be evaluated by an OSI orthopedic specialist. Symptoms include:

  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tender to touch
  • Not being able to put any weight on the injured foot
  • Deformity (“out of place”), particularly if the ankle joint is dislocated, as well
  • Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest

How does OSI fix an Ankle or Foot Fracture?

A board-certified OSI foot and ankle specialist will examine you for signs and symptoms of an ankle or foot fracture. The examination will include: 

  • Physical exam: Your OSI doctor will check for points of tenderness in your foot or ankle. The precise location of your pain can help determine its cause and your foot may be moved into different positions to check your range of motion. You may be asked to walk for a short distance so your doctor can examine your gait.
  • X-rays: X-rays will show your OSI foot and ankle specialist if the bone is broken and whether there is displacement (a gap between broken bones). They can also show how many pieces of broken bone there are. X-rays may be taken of the leg, ankle, and foot to make sure nothing else is injured.

Nonsurgical Treatment

You may not require surgery if your ankle or foot is stable, meaning the broken bone is not out of place or just barely out of place. Several methods are used for protecting the fracture while it heals, including:

  • Supportive, high-top tennis shoes
  • A removable brace, walking boot, or shoe
  • A cast

Surgical Treatment

If your foot or ankle is unstable and/or out of place, your OSI orthopedic surgeon may need to do surgery. OSI’s surgical options include the use of pins, plates, or screws to maintain proper position of your bones during healing. More serious fractures may require bone grafting. Left untreated, a foot or ankle fracture can lead to cartilage damage and arthritis.


Because foot and ankle fractures encompass such a wide range of injuries, healing times vary. It will take at least six weeks for broken foot and ankle bones to heal. It is important to follow your OSI orthopedic surgeon’s orders for rehab and physical therapy, which you can get right at OSI.