Ankle Fracture

Complications

Are there any complications that I need to be aware of?

Xray showing a fracture of the Fibula.
Xray showing a fracture of the Fibula.

General complications after an ankle fracture include:

  • Stiffness of the foot and ankle
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Arthritis in later life - One of the most common long term complications affecting your broken ankle is osteoarthritis, or just arthritis. When bones around the joint have broken they are likely to undergo more severe wear and tear than non-injured joints. This causes pain and swelling in the joint and may be severe enough to warrant further treatment.
  • Inadequate healing – the position of the bones in the ankle is very important. For this reason, resetting the bones in the correct position, whether with a plaster or operation, must be exact in order to avoid inadequate healing.

If you require an operation, there are a number of general risks as well as complications specifically associated with ankle repair:

  • Bleeding from the incisions
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Infection – any operation has a risk of infection, either at the site of surgery or throughout the body. Infections are usually prevented by antibiotics administered the day of and day after the operation. NOTE – if you have diabetes you are at a much greater risk of infection.
  • Injury to nerves – Numbness or tingling can occur at the wound or in the foot. This is usually temporary but in some it may be permanent.
  • Blood clots- Deep vein thrombosis(DVT)
  • Compartment Syndrome – this occurs when pressure in the foot and ankle, either from swelling or a plaster, cuts off the circulation to the foot. The lack of blood supply causes extreme pain, as well as numbness and/or tingling and can cause longterm damage to the small intrinsic muscles in the foot.
  • Need for further surgery:
    • The metalwork may need to be removed it if becomes prominent or problematic
    • Failure of the bones to heal or incorrect position may result in a salvage operation or arthrodesis.

 

Diagram of an Ankle looking from the front. It shows different types of fractures around the Ankle Joint
Diagram of an Ankle looking from the front. It shows different types of fractures around the Ankle Joint
12 August, 2012