Surgery may be indicated for most ankle fractures particularly if they are displaced. The goal is always to achieve anatomical reduction which means the optimal reformation of the fracture bones to maintain alignment of the broken bones. The surgeon may use a plate, metal or absorbable screws or wires to hold the bones in place.
After surgery, patients will be placed into a splint to rest the ankle and allow the tissues to settle down and to aid in healing. Patients will be provided with crutches and taught how to walk without putting any weight on your operated ankle (non-weight bearing). Patients will be put into physiotherapy later on to rehabilitate the ankle joint and strengthen it. This improves range of motion of the joint.
Recovery time varies depending upon the type of fracture or need for surgery. The average fracture requires 6-8 weeks for the bone to heal, after which weight bearing may be allowed in a gradual manner. Sometimes fractures may need a longer time to heal and may require secondary surgical procedures particularly if the bones fail to heal or to remove the metal-work.
Fractures of any type increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in the affected joint. The more severe the fracture, the higher the risk of developing some degree of arthritis.