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A fractured ankle can be as simple as a small crack or as complicated as several broken pieces of bone that pierce the skin. Ankle fractures are caused by twisting or rolling the ankle, tripping or falling awkwardly, or by trauma. Treatments for an ankle fracture can vary from rest and medication to surgery, states the Mayo Clinic 1. Once the injured ankle can bear weight again, there are specific exercises that can be performed to promote recovery.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Gradually increasing the number of steps walked will promote a healthy recovery after an ankle fracture 1. Because the ankle and foot have been immobile for some time, strengthening the muscles that support the ankle and loosening up tight ligaments and muscles is necessary. Walking with crutches is the first step toward rehabilitation. A rehabilitating patient should bear as much weight on the ankle that is tolerable, for as many steps as his pain will allow. The number of steps walked each day should gradually increase. He should stop if his pain becomes severe or if he notices his ankle is swelling. After each attempt at walking, he should elevate the ankle and apply ice if necessary. Doctors' and physical therapists’ specific walking recommendations should always be followed.
- Gradually increasing the number of steps walked will promote a healthy recovery after an ankle fracture 1.
- A rehabilitating patient should bear as much weight on the ankle that is tolerable, for as many steps as his pain will allow.
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Increasing the range of motion of the ankle is also necessary for a proper recovery. During times of immobility, ligaments that hold the bones of your ankle together can tighten up and make walking difficult. Alphabet letters can improve the range of motion significantly if done on a consistent basis.
To perform, a rehabilitating patient should pretend that the great toe is a pencil. She should write the alphabet in the air. This exercise should be performed two to three times per session. She should perform this exercise daily until she is walking regularly without crutches.
- Increasing the range of motion of the ankle is also necessary for a proper recovery.
- During times of immobility, ligaments that hold the bones of your ankle together can tighten up and make walking difficult.
Calf raises is an exercise that will increase the strength of the muscles that support the ankle. This exercise specifically increases the strength of the calf muscle and your anterior tibialis muscles, which is the muscle along the front of the shinbone. Increasing the strength of the muscles around the ankle will reduce risk of a future fracture 1.
To perform, the patient should stand on a step or a book, with the heels hanging off the back edge. Holding onto a wall or stair rail for balance support, he should then slowly stand as high as possible on the toes.This position should be held for 3 seconds. Now, he should take 3 seconds to return to the starting position. Ten to 15 repetitions of this exercise in two to three sets, or as tolerated, should be performed .
- Calf raises is an exercise that will increase the strength of the muscles that support the ankle.
- To perform, the patient should stand on a step or a book, with the heels hanging off the back edge.
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- Mayo Clinic: Ankle Fracture
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Ankle Fracture
- Beckenkamp PR, Lin CC, Herbert RD, et al. EXACT: exercise or advice after ankle fracture. Design of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011;12:148. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-148
- Habets B, van Cingel REH, Backx FJG, Huisstede BMA. Alfredson versus Silbernagel exercise therapy in chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2017;18(1):296. doi:10.1186/s12891-017-1656-4
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.