What is an ankle dislocation?
An abnormal separation between the bones of a joint is called a dislocation. When this happens to the ankle joint, it is called an ankle dislocation. Ankle dislocations can happen to people of all ages. They occur with ankle fractures much more often than with just sprains.
The three bones that make up the ankle joint are:
- Tibia (shinbone)
- Fibula (the smaller bone in the leg)
- Talus (a bone in the foot)
The ankle joint helps the foot move up and down. Below this is another ankle joint called the subtalar joint. This joint is between the talus and another bone in the foot (calcaneus). This joint lets the foot move side to side. Normally, a set of very strong ligaments hold all of these bones tightly in place. The ligaments do not pull away or tear easily.
A severe injury can pull or tear these ligaments out of place, however. This creates an abnormal space between the bones. Ankle dislocations often occur along with a break in one or more of the ankle bones. In some cases, an ankle dislocation can happen without a break in the ankle bones. In these cases, the ankle dislocation occurs along with a severe ankle sprain. A severe sprain is when the ligaments are torn.
In most cases, the injury pushes the talus bone behind the other ankle bones. It may also be pushed to either side, to the front or upwards.
What is the reduction of an ankle dislocation?
- An ankle dislocation is a relatively common type of dislocation encountered in the emergency department. They exist in two forms:
- A true dislocation without fracture
- A fracture-dislocation, occurring in the vast majority
- If the surgeon moves the bones back into place without surgery, it is called closed reduction.
- Sometimes, the surgeon may align the bones back in place through the surgery under general anesthesia to let them heal correctly. This is called reduction.
- The surgeon may also use special plates and screws to keep the bones in place. This is called internal fixation.
- During the same procedure, the surgeon usually fixes the torn ligaments to keep the bone in place.
What happens after the reduction of an ankle dislocation?
- Usually, after the procedure, the patient will be monitored in the hospital.
- Patients may be started on pain medications, antibiotics and blood thinners.
- Patients might be advised to keep their ankle raised (elevated).
- Usually, a cast or splint or boot is used to keep the ankle in position and reduce swelling. Usually, the recovery depends on the patient’s capability.
- Most patients recover between six and eight months.
- After the leg has healed a bit, the doctor may recommend physical therapy. These exercises will help the patient to restore and keep the range of motion and strength.
- Some patients may need to use crutches or a cane for a few months after the injury. The doctor or physical therapist will let the patient know when they can go back to normal activities.
- Doctors also recommend patients to eat a diet that is rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein that can help in bone healing.
What are the possible complications of an ankle dislocation?
Patients might have the following complications from ankle dislocations:
- Stiffness in joints (physical therapy may help)
- Ankle arthritis causing a lasting (severe) ankle pain
- Infection, which may need treatment with antibiotics or a follow-up surgery
- A broken bone that fails to heal correctly, which might need a follow-up surgery
- Pain from the plates and screws used in the surgery (these may be removed at a later date)
- Problems with wound healing
- Blood vessel or nerve damage from dislocations or fractures
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Medscape Medical Reference
Top What Is the Reduction of an Ankle Dislocation Related Articles
Ankle Pain (Tendinitis)Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Bone Density ScanBone density scanning measures bone mineral density, which helps a doctor decide whether a person is at increased risk of an osteoporosis-related fracture. The following risk factors may suggest the need for bone density scanning: advanced age, poor health, low body weight or thin stature, personal history of fracture as an adult, low physical activity, RA, and use of birth control pills.
Dislocated Ankle (Ankle Dislocation)Symptoms and signs of a dislocated ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, ankle deformity, and possible numbness and tingling in the foot. Treatment of an ankle dislocation involves putting the ankle bones back in their normal positions, possible using gentle traction. The blood and nerve supply to the foot will be evaluated and the ankle will be checked for any related fractures. The ankle will be fitted with a splint or a cast.
Foot Health: Causes of Swollen Feet and AnklesSwollen feet and ankles may be associated with conditions like pregnancy, injury, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic venous insufficiency, and lymphedema. Treatment may include home remedies, exercise, magnesium, and certain medications.
OA & Your JointsDealing with joint pain and arthritis? Learn why weight matters--and why NOT to stretch before exercise. See these solutions for joint pain and tips to protect your joints from damage.
Sprains and StrainsAn injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
What Causes Swollen Feet and Swollen Ankles?Swollen ankles and swollen feet is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition such as edema, medications, pregnancy, injuries, diseases, infections, lymphedema, or blood clots.