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The Best Broken Ankle Recovery Tips

by Patty Weasler, RN December 22, 2021 0 Comments

Broken ankle with brace

Get ready for the best broken ankle recovery tips! A broken ankle takes weeks if not months to recover. After you’ve seen your doctor and developed a recovery plan, it will be up to you to follow through on treatment to fully recover from your ankle fracture. Keep scrolling for 11 of the most helpful tips for recovering from a broken ankle.

1. Get the Right Diagnosis

An ankle injury isn’t as easy to diagnose as you’d think. A fracture and ankle sprain can oftentimes look and feel the same. Pain, swelling, and bruising can happen in either injury. If you have an injured ankle the first step is to contact your doctor. They will be able to evaluate your injury and determine if you’ve fractured one or more of your ankle bones or if you have a sprained ankle. If your doctor suspects a fractured ankle you will likely have an x-ray of your lower leg to confirm the diagnosis.

Check out this resource on the difference between a broken ankle and an ankle sprain.

2. Avoid Weight Bearing Activities

Resting is one of the hardest treatments for some people. When you’ve got to work, take care of your family, run errands, and just maintain your own health it’s hard to stay off of your feet. But when you have an injured ankle joint now is not the time to ignore your body. Don’t walk on your injured foot. Follow your doctor’s orders regarding weight-bearing activities. A shower chair is another good investment to keep yourself safe in a slippery shower.

3. If You Need to Walk, Get Support

We realize that you will, at some point, need to walk. Use a knee scooter if you are completely non-weight-bearing or crutches. If your ankle has been in a cast, you will likely need to wear a walking boot for a few weeks after the cast comes off. After that point, you can wear a splint or ankle brace for support during activities or to just help you feel more sturdy. An ankle brace is one of the best ways to support your ankle joint after your fracture has healed.

4. Remember that Recovery Takes Time

Your recovery time will depend upon your overall health, age, and other factors. If you’ve had an ankle fracture that did not require surgery you can expect that your recovery time will be 6 weeks. Fractures that need ankle surgery can take 12 weeks for a full recovery. Just remember everyone is different. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon or doctor for a specific estimate for your recovery and check out our broken ankle recovery article

Consider Physical Therapy

5. Elevate Whenever Possible

Part of dealing with a broken ankle is managing the swelling. Swelling is when fluids are pushed out of your blood vessels and into the soft tissues that surround the injury. One of the best ways to reduce this swelling is to elevate your ankle above the level of your heart. This encourages gravity to return fluids out of your soft tissue and back into the vessels. To elevate your injured ankle, lay down on a couch or your bed and place an elevation pillow under your leg while you’re sleeping, watching TV, or just about any time you’re resting.

6. Reintroduce Activity Gradually

Broken bones take time to heal, don’t compromise your recovery by jumping into activities too quickly. Follow your doctor’s orders about the return to normal activity. This might look like moving from being completely non-weight-bearing to slightly weight-bearing. After that, you might be able to use crutches and then go onto a walking boot. It might seem like your progress is slow and futile at times but stick with it or you can reinjure your ankle.

Find Safe Exercises for Fractured Ankle Recovery Here

7. Prevent Future Ankle Injuries

Your recovery from an ankle fracture may include physical therapy. A physical therapist will work with you to regain your range of motion and guide you through strengthening exercises. You will be sent home with movements to do on your own time. To get the most out of your physical therapist’s guidance make sure you follow all of their at-home instructions. Your therapist will ensure that you have fully recovered from your injury so that you can restart all your normal daily activities.

Read this article to learn more about physical therapy for broken ankles

8. Watch for Complications & Talk to Your Doctor

An ankle fracture is a serious injury that can carry along certain complications, even in the most attentive patients. If you are experiencing a fever (which could mean you have an infection), numbness, increasing pain, are unable to move your toes, or significant swelling it’s time to see your doctor. The swelling and bone fracture can cause damage to the surrounding structures in your ankle causing any one of these symptoms.

9. Do Your Exercises Regularly, but Carefully

One way to prevent reinjury is to exercise regularly. Your lower leg will benefit from exercise that strengthens the muscles, this can prevent a future ankle break. Be cautious about new activities and start off slowly. Switch between low-intensity and high-intensity exercise to give your body a chance to recover.

Here’s an in-depth resource for exercises for broken ankles

10. Eat Healthy and Don’t Smoke

A healthy body means that your body will heal faster and with fewer complications. There are multiple ways you can give yourself the best opportunities to reduce your broken ankle recovery time. The first is to eat a balanced diet that is high in vitamin D and calcium. These two nutrients are crucial in the bone recovery process. The second way you can improve healing is to stop smoking. Tobacco and nicotine interfere with the bone healing process and can increase your risk for fractures.

11. Ask Your Doctor the Right Questions

Maybe one of the most important ways you can stay on the right path to recovery is to be an active member in your care. If a question comes up, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. We recommend having a pad of paper and pen nearby to write down things as they come up or making a list of questions on your phone. This will ensure you don’t forget to ask those important questions when the time comes! Here is a list of questions to help get you started.

  • How long will my injury take to recover?
  • What should I expect during the recovery process?
  • Will I need a cast? How long will I need a cast?
  • Can I bear weight on my foot?
  • What can I do to protect my ankle and foot?
  • What are some changes that would warrant a call to the doctor?
  • How can I help manage my pain?

The Right Information for a Safe Recovery

An ankle fracture is a serious injury that takes weeks to months to fully recover from. These recovery tips will help you make the most of your time. By staying off of your feet, wearing a protective brace, and asking the right questions you’ll be an active participant in your health care and prevent future injury.

Sources:

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/foot-and-ankle-injury/7-tips-for-recovering-from-a-broken-or-dislocated-ankle

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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