Non operative Treatment
In some circumstances, non operative treatment is possible. This is when the fracture is minimally or not displaced (the bones are still where they should be). In these cases, the fracture can be protected with a number of different methods, ranging from a high-top tennis shoe to a short leg cast. The exact treatment required depends on a number of factors including the exact site of the fracture. The surgeon will determine the most appropriate treatment.
If the fracture is displaced or the ankle is unstable, surgery is required. To make the ankle stable, a plate and screws on the side of the bone or a screw or rod inside the bone may be used to re-align the bone fragments and keep them together as they heal. Different wiring techniques may also be used. Sometimes, the fracture can include “impaction,” or indenting of the ankle joint. This can require bone grafting to repair it, in order to lower any later risk of developing arthritis.
Repeat xrays will be required regularly to make sure the fracture does not change in position.
As with any surgery, there are risks. General surgical risks include infection, bleeding, pain, blood clots in the leg, and damage to blood vessels, tendons or nerves.
Specific risks associated with the treatment of ankle fractures include difficulty with bone healing, arthritis, and pain from the plates and screws that are used to fix fracture. Some patients choose to have these removed several months after their fracture heals.