We're probably all familiar with the sudden, sharp and somewhat-gross sensation that accompanies rolling or spraining our ankles. It can happen practically anywhere: on the field of play, on a hiking trail or while navigating the toy-covered floor of a child's bedroom.
As active baby boomers continue to age (and push themselves and their bodies), there has been an increase in the numbers of broken ankles being treated, and this trend is expected to continue.
While sprained ankles are quite common, so too are broken ankles, and it's easy to confuse one for the other. Ankle fractures and sprains are both often accompanied by tendon damage. They cause swelling and bruising, and can force the injured person off his or her feet for long periods of time, followed by time on crutches or a significant limp. Because the injury may be more severe than it initially seems, it's a good idea to get all ankle injuries examined by a health care professional.
There are three bones that form the ankle joint: the tibia and fibula of the lower leg, and the talus in the foot. Any of these three bones can be broken by extreme pressure from overextension or impact.
Treatment of a fractured ankle depends on the severity and complexity of the break. Some ankles can be treated with a cast or even just the stability provided by high-top-style basketball shoes, while others will require surgery and the use of screws or pins.
While broken bones are common -- and some clearly more frequent than others -- you can decrease your risk by strengthening your bones through calcium supplements, regular exercise and precaution. You can also find lots more information on broken bones on the next page.