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Ankle Fractures

What is an Ankle Fracture?

The ankle is a type of mortise and tenon joint. This means the ankle joint has a lot of contact between the bones of the distal tibia and talus. The lateral part of the ankle joint is the fibula bone. The articulation or contact of these three bones--the tibia, talus, and fibula--make the ankle joint. 

When someone twists their ankle in a sport or any type of activity, they are at risk for breaking this bony joint and that results in an ankle fracture.

What types of ankle fractures are there?

Ankle fractures come in many forms. If the bone breaks, but the pieces stay in good alignment, it is known as non-displaced fracture. If the bone breaks, and the pieces shift out of place, it is known as a displaced fracture.


The medial part of the tibia forms a part of the mortise known as the medial malleolus. This is the "bump" you feel on the inside of your ankle. The fibula forms the lateral malleolus or the "bump" on the outside of your ankle.  These malleoli (plural) can commonly break in ankle fractures.

Lateral Malleolus Fibula Fracture

Increased space

How are ankle fractures treated?

Most small, nondisplaced, fractures of the ankle can be treated without surgery and we may be able to let you put weight on the foot while the bones heal.


If the bones of the medial or lateral malleoli are displaced or associated with instability around the ankle, you may benefit from surgery. Surgery involves plates and screws to put the bones back in place so the ankle heals properly. Typically, there is a period of 4-6 weeks where you are NOT putting any weight on the foot while the bones heal. We will get xrays in clinic to make sure everything is healing correctly.


1. Skelley, N. “Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries.” Presented at: Washington University in St. Louis Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds; Saint Louis, MO. August 2014.

2. Skelley NW, Ricci WM. A single-person reduction and splinting technique for ankle injuries. J Orthop Trauma. 2015;29(4):e172-177.

3. Skelley NW, McCormick JJ, Smith MV. In-game Management of Common Joint Dislocations. Sports Health. 2014;6(3):246-255.

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