Which Ankle Injuries Usually Require Surgery?

Most of us have sprained an ankle before, and are happy to use rest, ice and some ibuprofen to let it heal. But some ankle injuries are more severe or don’t heal properly and require surgery.

Chronic Ankle Sprains or Instability

If you’ve sprained your ankle many times and it seems to give out more easily each time, that could be a sign that you have chronic ankle instability. This happens because each injury weakens or stretches your ankle ligaments. While bracing and physical therapy can help, sometimes surgery to reconstruct the torn ligaments can be preferable as a more permanent solution, especially for athletes who don’t want to have nagging ankle problems over the course of several years.

Ankle Fractures

Foot and Ankle Anatomy Diagram
 Ankle fractures can occur in many different places:

  • Tibia (larger lower leg bone)
  • Fibula (thinner lower leg bone)
  • Talus
  • Medial Malleoli
  • Lateral Malleoli
  • Posterior Malleolus

Because these bones all have different weight-bearing impact and the severity and exact location of the fracture is also important, the outcomes of ankle fractures vary widely. For example, the tibia carries 90 percent of the weight through your leg, compared to 10 percent on the fibula. The most important thing is to monitor fractures as they heal, often by repeated X-Ray, and determine if the healing pattern is tracking towards a stable ankle. Often, this is not the case and surgery may be recommended.

Achilles Injuries

Achilles injuries often times require surgery, because ruptures, or tears, may not heal well on their own. Some injuries can be treated without surgery, but all need to be evaluated to determine the best course of action. Achilles tendonitis is the more common condition and can often be treated nonsurgically, but sometimes requires surgery as well. Usually, surgery is only recommended after six months of rest, ice, medications, physical therapy, orthotics, injections or other interventions do not work satisfactorily.

At OrthoNebraska, our physicians believe taking each patient’s needs into account is important when designing a treatment plan. Whether you are concerned about surgery or just want a proper diagnosis, please feel free to call (402) 637-0800 for an appointment.

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