Fractured Bones

Not all broken bones require surgery immediately. One should not consider surgical intervention until conservative measures are attempted first. Surgery should be avoided if you have significant soft tissue swelling, infection, skin or vascular problem or other medical problems that could cause a risk for anesthesia.

When surgery is determined to be the best course of action, surgery involves general anesthesia with a local anesthetic block to reduce pain after surgery is complete.  Surgery involves making an incision on the skin overlying the fractured bone. The bone is then exposed to see the fracture. The fractured bone fragments are realigned to their anatomic positions.  The positioning is held in place with the use of screws and plates that made from metal.  Once the fracture has been stabilized the incision is stitched closed, a sterile dressing is added and the foot is placed into a cast, splint, boot or post-operative shoe.  Bone generally takes 4-6 week to heal, or longer depending on the patient.  It is safe to be non- weight bearing to the surgical foot for at least 4 weeks or until bone healing is confirmed with an x-ray.  During the post operative period, serial x rays will be taken every two weeks until the bone is completely healed.  Patients will be placed in a hard cast or a CAM boot for off loading and protection during this time.  It is important to report to all follow up appointments post operatively to prevent complications of surgical procedures.

Complications of a broken ankle or broken foot are uncommon but may include:

  • Fractures that extend into the joint can cause arthritis years later. If your ankle or foot starts to hurt long after a break, see your doctor for an evaluation.
  • Bone infection (osteomyelitis).If you have an open fracture, meaning one end of the bone protrudes through the skin, your bone may be exposed to bacteria that cause infection.
  • Compartment syndrome.This condition can rarely occur with ankle fractures. It causes pain, swelling and sometimes disability in affected muscles of the legs or arms.
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage.Trauma to the foot or ankle can injure adjacent nerves and blood vessels, sometimes actually tearing them. Seek immediate attention if you notice any numbness or circulation problems. Lack of blood flow can cause a bone to die and collapse.


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