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Ankle Fracture Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ankle injuries and fractures tend to be obvious.

  • Pain is the most common complaint.
    • Often the pain will not come from the exact area of the fracture.
    • You may experience associated fractures of your foot (especially on the side of the small toe) or knee that also cause pain.
    • It is usually pain in the ankle that stops you from walking.
  • Swelling frequently occurs around the ankle too.
    • Swelling suggests either soft tissue damage with possible blood around the joint or fluid within the joint itself, most likely blood.
    • When blood is in the joint, it is called hemarthrosis.
  • You may see bruising ("black and blue") about the joint, although not immediately. This bruising can track down toward the sole of your foot or toward the toes.
  • In severe fractures you may see obvious deformities of bones around the ankle.
    • Your skin may be stretched over an underlying broken bone.
    • You may see actual exposed bone.
  • If you injure nerves or blood vessels that supply your foot, you may experience even more pain along with pale skin in the foot, numbness, or inability to move your foot or toes.

When to Seek Medical Care

When you have injured an ankle, there several things you can look for to determine whether or not you need to see your doctor or go to an emergency department. The following situations warrant seeing your doctor as soon as possible:

  • You cannot bear weight on the ankle.
  • Your pain remains intolerable despite using over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Home care fails to reduce your pain.

If you are unable to see your doctor and have any of the signs or symptoms of an ankle fracture, you should go to an emergency department as soon as possible.

The following signs and symptoms call for immediate care at an emergency department:

  • Gross deformity of the ankle bones
  • Bones visible outside your skin
  • Intolerable pain despite over-the-counter pain medications
  • Inability to move your toes
  • Inability to move your ankle at all
  • Ankle numbness or partial numbness
  • Cold or blue foot

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