Ankle Fracture Specialist

Ankle Fractures

Ankle fractures occur when one or more of the bones in the ankle joint break. These injuries can result from accidents, falls, or sports-related trauma. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected ankle. Ankle fractures are typically diagnosed through X-rays and may require immobilization or surgical intervention for proper healing. Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the fracture. Proper medical evaluation and treatment are essential to ensure the ankle regains its strength and functionality.

Minimally Invasive Ankle Fracture Surgery + Ankle Ligament Repair with “Tight-rope” + Stem Cells with
Dr. Ryan M. Sherick

What is an ankle fracture?

An ankle fracture is a type of injury in which one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint break or crack. This can occur due to a variety of causes, such as a fall, a sports injury, or a car accident. Symptoms often include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving or bearing weight on the affected ankle. Diagnosis typically involves X-rays, and treatment may involve casting, bracing, or surgery, depending on the severity of the fracture. Proper medical care is crucial for a full and functional recovery.

Is my ankle fractured or sprained?

Distinguishing between an ankle fracture and a sprain can be challenging, as they share common symptoms like pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the ankle. However, there are key differences. A fracture involves a broken bone, usually causing sharp, localized pain. X-rays can confirm it. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments, resulting in more widespread pain and instability. It’s crucial to seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis. Ankle fractures often require immobilization or surgery, while sprains may heal with rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

What causes ankle fractures?

Ankle fractures are typically caused by traumatic incidents that exert excessive force on the ankle joint. Common causes include:
Falls: Tripping, slipping, or falling from a height can lead to ankle fractures.
Sports Injuries: High-impact sports, such as football or basketball, may result in fractures during collisions or awkward landings.
Car Accidents: The impact of a car crash can cause significant ankle injuries.
Twisting or Rolling: Sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle, often seen in uneven terrain or missteps, can also cause fractures.
Osteoporosis: Weakened bones due to conditions like osteoporosis increase the risk of fractures, even with minor trauma.

Understanding the causes is essential in preventing and addressing ankle fractures.

How are ankle fractures treated?

Treatment for ankle fractures depends on the severity and type of the fracture.

The two primary approaches are non-surgical and surgical treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment:
Immobilization: Mild fractures may be managed with a cast, walking boot, or ankle brace to keep the bones in proper alignment. This immobilization typically lasts 6-8 weeks, followed by a period of physical therapy.
Rest and Elevation: Reducing weight-bearing and elevating the ankle can help reduce swelling and pain.
Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
Surgical Treatment:
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): For complex or displaced fractures, surgery is required. The surgeon repositions the broken bones and uses screws, plates, or other hardware to stabilize the ankle. More often than not there are also associated injuries to the soft tissue such as ligaments, tendons, or ankle joint cartilage defects that need surgical repair. Dr. Ryan M. Sherick is highly skilled in arthroscopic evaluation and repair of those associated injuries at the time of ankle fracture ORIF. Dr. Ryan Sherick notes during surgery while completing a required stress examination of the ankle most often that there is also an associated high ankle ligament injury with most rotational ankle fractures requiring double or single “tight-rope” ligament repair at the time of the initial ankle fracture ORIF. Dr. Ryan Sherick will also give the patient the option of using their own “stem cells” in the form of bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) or platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is often used at the site of the fracture, ligament repair, tendon repair, or injected into the ankle joint at the end of surgery to enhance and “maximize” the biologic healing capacity of the patient.
Minimally Invasive Ankle Fracture Repair (MIS): For minimally displaced ankle fractures surgery is still required if bone fragments are displaced greater than 2mm or if there is an associated ankle ligament or tendon injury. If the ankle fracture or injury pattern is amenable to minimally invasive ankle fracture surgery techniques then this is best for the patient typically. Dr. Ryan M. Sherick is experienced in utilizing minimally invasive techniques for ankle fractures to minimize the surgical scar on the lower leg after ankle surgery, and to allow active patients to have a faster recovery as a result of the benefits to MIS surgery. Minimally Invasive ankle fracture surgery typically results in less soft tissue edema, smaller incision, and faster healing given less disruption of normal anatomy during surgery while also typically relying on a “load sharing” implant to fixate the fracture vs most “open” ankle fracture surgeries relying on prominent plates/screw constructs which can be prominent or painful after healing. This load-sharing device is referred to as a fibular intramedullary nail for ankle fracture fixation with the added advantage for the surgeon to also simultaneously perform if needed double or single “tight-rope” ankle ligament repair through “poke holes”. This is especially beneficial for patients wanting to get back to sport quicker after ankle fracture injury or ankle fracture surgery. (See photo above for a Before + After with Dr. Ryan Sherick MIS Ankle Fx Surgery for an example of MIS Ankle Fracture Surgery with simultaneous Tightrope Ankle Ligament Repair + use of Stem Cells and Arthroscopic Surgery)
Closed Reduction: In some cases, a closed reduction may be performed under anesthesia, where the bones are repositioned without making a large incision.
Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Following treatment, a period of rehabilitation is crucial to regain strength, mobility, and function. Physical therapy exercises can improve muscle strength and joint flexibility. Rehabilitation timelines vary based on the severity of the injury but often extend from several weeks to several months.


It’s important to note that complications such as infection, malunion (improper healing of the fracture), or nonunion (failure of the bones to heal) can arise. Patients should closely follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations and attend follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process.

Ultimately, the specific treatment approach for an ankle fracture is determined by a healthcare provider, considering the patient’s overall health, the type of fracture, and the individual’s activity level and lifestyle.

Dr. Ryan Sherick is a Fellowship-trained Foot & Ankle Surgeon with high-volume trauma experience of the lower extremity proudly providing advanced ankle fracture surgery and management to the following areas: Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Malibu, Calabasas, West Hills, Chatsworth, San Fernando Valley and the entire Conejo Valley, Santa Rosa Valley, and greater Los Angeles area.

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