When that happens, your ankle can hurt and swell up. You'll find it hard to walk. But you don't need to stay off your feet for too long. There are treatments, including surgery, that get you moving again.
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If your ankle breaks, you've got several options to get it fixed. Here's what to expect.
Step 1: Diagnosis
Which treatment your doctor recommends depends on the type of fracture you have and how severe it is. He'll look at X-rays or other scans to help him decide the best approach.
Step 2: Repair
Your doctor has two options to fix your broken ankle. If it's stable and the bones are still in place, he may put you in a cast, splint, or brace. It stops you from moving the joint while you heal, which can take about 6 weeks.
You may need surgery if your ankle is out of place or isn't stable enough to hold your body weight.
During the operation, your surgeon puts your broken bones back together with metal screws or plates. He might add a new piece of bone in a procedure that's called a graft.
After the surgery, he'll put a cast on your ankle. You might go home on the same day or the day after.
Step 3: Recovery
Right after surgery, you'll have to keep your ankle still. Once you're back home, your doctor might recommend that you raise it and apply ice to keep the swelling down.
You'll wear a splint, boot, or cast for 6 to 8 weeks to hold the joint in place while it heals. You won't be able to put any weight on it.
After about 6 weeks, you'll switch to a special boot and begin to walk on the ankle. You may work with a physical therapist, who will teach you exercises to help you move your joint again.
Little by little, you can go back to work and take on many of your normal activities. But you may need to wait up to 3 months before you can play most sports. It can take 6 months to a year to fully heal.
When your ankle is back to normal, your surgeon may remove the plates or screws. Some doctors, though, use screws that dissolve on their own.