In early 2015, a number of professional athletes were temporarily put out of commission thanks to broken ankles. Among them were University of Kentucky’s Janee Thompson and Los Angeles Kings’ Tanner Pearson.
Thompson reportedly broke her tibia and Pearson, as it later turned out, actually broke his fibula. Both are two of the three bones that make up the top ankle joint. The other is the talus. It should also be mentioned that there is another joint in the foot that connects the ankle bone to the heel bone. It’s called the subtalar joint but apparently neither athlete broke that one this time around.
When the tibia, fibula or talus breaks, it can be quite traumatic for athletes and everyday Joes alike. In most cases, swelling and severe pain are immediately present and the injured person can no longer stand up without assistance. As time goes on, bruising is also likely to appear on and around the broken bones. After the injury, it is extremely important that the accident victim’s broken ankle is examined and repaired. Otherwise, the deformities could become permanent, thereby rendering the person disabled.
Furthermore, if the person who sustains the broken ankle hasn’t finished growing yet (e.g. child), he or she will need to be closely monitored for bone or joint weakness and deformities long after the initial injury has been treated. The extended monitoring period is crucial to ensure that the broken ankle doesn’t interfere with the leg and foot bones’ normal growth as time goes on. In most instances, the extended period will last at least two years, maybe more depending on the individual’s normal growth rate and unique circumstances.
The severity of the injury will dictate which treatment methods are used. Options often include, but are not limited to emergency surgery, casting and post-surgery rehabilitation. Depending on the situation, full recovery from broken ankles may take two months or more. As such, the two athletes that we mentioned earlier are likely to be off of their respective courts for at least part or all of a full season. To speak with a St. Louis podiatrist about broken ankles and best practices to ensure the bones heal properly, please click here.