A broken ankle or broken foot is a common injury. You may experience a broken ankle or broken foot during a car crash or from a simple misstep or fall. The seriousness of a broken ankle or broken foot varies. Fractures can range from tiny cracks in your bones to breaks that pierce your skin.
Treatment for a broken ankle or broken foot depends on the exact site and severity of the fracture. A severely broken ankle or broken foot may require surgery to implant plates, rods or screws into the broken bone to maintain proper position during healing.
The most common causes of a broken ankle or a broken foot include:
- Car accidents. The crushing injuries common in car accidents may cause breaks that require surgical repair.
- Falls. Tripping and falling can break bones in your ankles or feet, as can landing on your feet after jumping down from several feet off the ground.
- Impact from a heavy weight. Dropping something heavy on your foot is a common cause of fractures.
- Missteps. Sometimes just putting your foot down wrong can result in a broken bone. Many broken toes have happened when people stub their toes on furniture. Twisting your ankle just right can cause a sprain or a broken bone.
- Overuse. Stress fractures are common in the weight-bearing bones of your ankles or feet. These tiny cracks are usually caused over time by repetitive force or overuse, such as running long distances. But they can also occur with normal use of a bone that’s been weakened by a condition such as osteoporosis or a stress fracture.
If you have a broken ankle or broken foot, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Immediate, throbbing pain
- Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest
- Difficulty in walking or bearing weight
- Problems getting a shoe on or off
Some people feel or hear a snap at the time of injury and assume that means something has broken. However, a snapping sound or feeling is not always a sign of a fracture.
When to see a doctor
See a doctor if the pain and swelling last for more than two or three days, or if pain interferes with walking.