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Orthopaedic Specialties

Ankle Dislocation

An ankle dislocation is a serious ankle injury that requires urgent medical care. A dislocation is a separation of two or more bones that create a joint. An ankle dislocation can happen in sports activities like football or soccer or even with “trip and fall” injuries.

Possible Causes of an Ankle Dislocation

Ankle dislocation

An ankle dislocation can occur during a sports activity that produces an injury to the ankle or even if one falls. Below are some causes of an ankle dislocation:

    • Hard blow during a sporting activity like football or soccer.
    • Motor vehicle accident.
    • Trip and fall making the ankle to become pointed and rolled.
    • Rapid and sudden change in direction with sports.

Signs and Symptoms of an Ankle Dislocation

  • These can include but are not limited to the following:
  • Painful foot and or ankle.
  • Considerable swelling in the affected area.
  • Trouble putting weight on the foot and or ankle.
  • Deformity and fractures.

Ankle Anatomy

Ankle bones, ankle dislocation

The ankle is made-up of three main bones that combine to form the ankle.

  1. The tibia is the larger shin bone that is located at the top of the ankle joint and continues down to the inside part of the ankle.
  2. The fibula is the smaller shin bone that continues down to the outer part of the ankle.
  3. The talus is the smaller bone that is located between the tibia and fibula.

The ankle is a stable joint because of the structure of the joint. The talus acts like a stabilizer between the tibia and fibula, permitting the foot to move up and down. These movements are identified as plantarflexion and dorsiflexion and are needed for any walking or standing movement. Numerous ligaments and muscles and tendons also stabilize the ankle. An ankle dislocation can stretch or tear these structures.

Diagnosis of an Ankle Dislocation

Imaging such as a CT scan, X-ray or MRI may be necessary to diagnose the dislocation. In addition to diagnosing the dislocation, imaging may be required to evaluate any soft tissue injuries or fractures.

Treatment of an Ankle Dislocation

Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the signs and symptoms listed above. Try to splint or protect the ankle and put no weight on the affected foot and ankle. If you are diagnosed with an ankle dislocation, surgery will probably be necessary to relocate the bone and stabilize any fractures. Depending on the extent of the injury, other bones or soft tissues could be damaged, and these structures will need to be repaired in the surgical procedure.

What to Expect After Surgery

After surgery, you will be wearing a cast or walking boot to give your injured ankle support. Crutches, a walker, or a scooter will be necessary since you won’t be able to put weight on to the affected leg.
While your injury is healing, you may need physical therapy, but it depends on the severity of your injury and your orthopedic specialist preferences.
Once you are allowed to start putting weight on to the injured ankle, you will need physical therapy to help with walking and regaining strength in your affected leg and ankle.

Long-term Factors to Consider

It is very likely that you will have residual stiffness in the affected ankle, especially if you fractured a bone.
You may also have residual relaxing of the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) because they were stretched during the injury.

Everyone’s healing time is different. It is essential to follow your orthopedic specialists’ directions, including your physical therapy professional, for optimal healing. Factors like smoking, an unhealthy diet, diabetes, and other health issues can cause slower healing and slower recovery.