Fractures: What should I know about an ankle fracture?

An ankle fracture is a common injury due to the rolling inwards or outwards of the ankle. A fracture involves an incomplete or full break in the bone. A fracture can range from an avulsion type to a severe shattering form that breaks the tibia, fibula or both.

In most cases, an ankle fracture is mistaken as a sprain but both are different and requires an accurate and prompt diagnosis. In some cases, both injuries can occur at the same time.

What are the indications?


Ankle pain that can radiate from the foot to the knee.

An ankle fracture is generally accompanied by one or several of these symptoms:

  • Ankle pain that can radiate from the foot to the knee
  • Evident swelling that can occur throughout the length of the leg or localized.
  • Formation of blisters might occur over the site of the fracture
  • Bruising after sustaining the injury
  • Inability or difficulty walking but one can still walk for minor injuries
  • Changes in the appearance of the ankle
  • Protrusion of bone through the skin that requires immediate care

Conservative management of an ankle fracture

The treatment for an ankle fracture is based on the type and severity of the injury. Initially, the doctor will utilize the RICE method:

  • Rest by not using the damaged ankle since walking can further aggravate the injury
  • Apply an ice pack on the site of the fracture for 20 minutes at a time
  • An elastic wrap must be used to minimize the swelling
  • The ankle must be raised to some extent above the height of the heart to lessen the swelling.

Some of the additional treatment measures might include immobilization to help protect and limit the foot and ankle under a splint or cast to allow bone healing. For pain relief, pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs might be prescribed.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on an ankle fracture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of fracture, register for a first aid and CPR course with Kelowna First Aid.