Ankle Fracture: Definition, Anatomy, and Causes

Ankle fractures are a common injury that can occur due to various reasons. Understanding ankle anatomy, where fractures can occur, the causes behind them, the different types of ankle fractures, and their treatment methods are crucial in managing these injuries effectively. This article will delve into these aspects to provide a comprehensive overview of ankle fractures.

What Is an Ankle Fracture?

An ankle bone fracture refers to a break in one or more of the three bones that make up the ankle joint. Fractures can involve any combination of these bones, typically resulting from a twisting injury or a fall from a height. The severity of ankle fractures can vary, ranging from minor cracks to more complex fractures involving displacement or joint instability.

Ankle Anatomy and Where Fractures Occur

The ankle joint consists of three main bones: the fibula, tibia, and talus. The fibula is the bone on the outer side of the leg, while the tibia is the larger bone on the inner side. Although not visible, the talus connects the leg and foot bones. Fractures can occur in any of these bones.

When referring to ankle breaks, specific terms are used based on the location of the fracture. The lateral malleolus fracture is a fracture in the bump on the outside of the ankle, known as the lateral malleolus. Similarly, the medial malleolus fracture occurs when the bump inside the ankle, called the medial malleolus, is fractured. Fractures can also involve the posterior malleolus at the back of the ankle. Fractures can involve a combination of these malleoli.

What Causes Ankle Fractures?

Ankle fractures can result from a variety of causes. Commonly, they occur due to slipping, twisting injuries, or a fall from a height. These injuries can happen during sports activities and in everyday situations such as missing a step in the house. More severe fractures may occur as a result of car accidents or falls from ladders. During these incidents, the force exerted on the ankle joint can exceed its strength, leading to fractures.

Download Ankle Sprains: Treatment and Tips for a Faster Recovery.

What Are the Different Kinds of Ankle Fractures?

The most frequently encountered ankle fractures are malleolar fractures, which involve the bony bumps on the sides of the ankle. Typically, a lateral malleolus fracture is the most common injury, but a bimalleolar fracture can also occur, affecting both the lateral and medial malleoli.

A common example of an ankle fracture is a lateral malleolus fracture accompanied by ligament instability between the two bones. Treating this type of fracture often involves using a plate and screws to restore the anatomy and stability. Additional procedures may be necessary to bring the fractured bones together, ensuring proper alignment and stability. This can be achieved by placing a device between the bones, securing them in place, and facilitating the restoration of stability and anatomy.

How Do You Treat an Ankle Fracture?

The treatment of ankle fractures aims to restore the anatomical alignment of the bones, minimize the risk of future arthritis, and regain stability of the ankle joint. Initially, the focus is on repositioning and aligning the fractured bones to their proper positions. If any ligament injuries are detected, they may also be addressed.

The specific treatment approach may vary depending on the severity and type of fractured ankle. Sometimes, nonsurgical methods like immobilization with a cast or brace may be sufficient. However, surgery may be required for more complex fractures or cases with significant displacement. Surgical options include using plates, screws, or other fixation devices to stabilize the fracture and promote healing.

Following the treatment, rehabilitation and physical therapy play a vital role in restoring mobility, strength, and function to the ankle joint. The rehabilitation process’s duration and intensity depend on the fracture’s severity and the individual’s overall health.


Ankle fractures are common injuries due to various causes, such as slipping, twisting, or falling from a height. Understanding the ankle anatomy, the location of fractures, different types of ankle fractures, and their treatment methods are essential for proper management and recovery. If you suspect an ankle fracture, seeking medical attention promptly to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is crucial. With the right care and rehabilitation, individuals can regain mobility and function, allowing them to return to normal activities.

To seek treatment for an ankle injury, you can request an appointment at or call (571) 250-5660.

We Are Here To Help

Set up a visit at one of our locations today.

Schedule Appointment
Join our Mailing List

TCO provides patients with orthopedic problems the trusted resources and patient-centered advice they need to “Feel Better. Move Better. Be Better.”