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Ankle Fracture Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on January 19, 2020

Call 911 if the person:

  • Is bleeding uncontrollably
  • Has a numb, cold, pale, or blue ankle/foot
  • Is unable to move the foot
  • Is in shock (faint, pale, with rapid shallow breathing)

1. Leave Protruding Bone Alone

  • If a bone has broken through the skin, don't push it back into place. Cover the area with a clean bandage and seek immediate medical attention.

2. Stop Bleeding

  • Apply steady, direct pressure with a cloth for 15 minutes and elevate the wound. If blood soaks through, apply another cloth over the first and seek immediate medical attention.

3. Control Swelling

  • Remove ankle bracelets or toe rings.

If medical attention is not immediately available, apply RICE therapy:

  • Rest ankle by having the person stay off of it. Use crutches if necessary.
  • Ice area. Use an ice pack or wrap the ice in a clean cloth. Do not place ice directly against the skin.
  • Compress by wrapping ankle lightly (not tightly) with an "ace" bandage or elastic ankle brace. Do not try to align the bones.
  • Elevate ankle above heart level.

4. Manage Pain and Inflammation

  • Give an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Avoid ibuprofen and other NSAIDs if the person has heart failure or kidney failure. Do NOT give aspirin to anyone ages 18 or younger.

5. See a Doctor as Soon as Possible

6. Follow Up

  • The doctor will examine and X-ray the ankle, leg, and foot. The doctor also may do a CT or CAT scan, or an MRI to determine if surgery is needed.
  • If needed, the doctor will set the broken bone back in place and immobilize the ankle with a splint, cast, or other device. Surgery may be necessary to repair the break.