If you’re suffering from an ankle fracture, chances are you want to know how long it will be before you’re back on your feet. The truth is that the healing process and recovery depend on the nature of your fracture, your overall health, and other factors.
The board-certified providers at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers in Texas provide personalized care for ankle fractures, including regularly monitoring your recovery to ensure you’re on track for optimal healing.
While we can’t give you specifics about your recovery without your personal details, we can give you an overview of the healing activity after an ankle fracture, so you better understand what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about this process.
Bones take time to heal
Bones are slower growing than other body parts, like your skin. For your ankle fracture to fully heal, the broken or fractured bones need to be in the correct position, and you should not move them during the healing process.
Your body starts to protect and heal the affected area as soon as an injury occurs. It sends extra blood to form a protective clot, and new bone cells develop around the break. The new cells grow toward each other to close the fracture.
Depending on your age, injury, and the severity of the break, a bone can take up to a year to fully regrow and heal — though chances are you’ll be able to walk and move around much sooner than this. Keep in mind that the younger you are, the faster your bones tend to heal.
Your Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers provider gives you detailed information about what you can expect with your specific injury.
Healing at your own pace
Every ankle fracture is different, just as every person is different. This means each individual’s healing progresses at a different rate depending on the following factors:
- Overall health
- Function and mobility before the break
- Goals for recovery
- Location of the break
- Type of fracture involved
- Classification (severity) of the fracture
- Whether you needed surgery
In other words, the length of time your recovery will take depends on your situation. At Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, your provider reviews your situation with you and gives you a reasonable estimate of what to expect based on your unique factors.
Usually, ankle fractures can take 12-16 weeks for the initial healing period. Some patients with minor fractures, like a hairline fracture, may fully recover after this period (or even sooner). For others with more complicated breaks, it may take weeks or months longer to recover mobility.
Give your fractured ankle a break
Whether you experience a minor hairline fracture or a complex break, all ankle fractures require rest. In most instances, you’ll need to avoid putting weight on the ankle for some time, although in some cases, a walking cast can be allowed.
Do not put weight on your injured ankle until your provider has cleared you to do so! Trying to bear weight too soon can cause the bones to heal incorrectly or re-injure your ankle.
If you had surgery, you might have your ankle in a splint or cast for several months before progressing to a different type of support, like a walking boot. Elevating your ankle at least 4-5 times daily and applying ice regularly can help speed healing and reduce pain and inflammation.
Once your provider has cleared you to put weight on your injured ankle, be sure to take it slow and follow all of their precautions. Depending on your injury, you may need physical therapy to help rebuild strength and stretch unused tendons and ligaments safely.
Follow-up with your provider
It’s important to maintain all follow-up appointments with your Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center provider to ensure your ankle is healing the way it should. You should also call the office if you experience new or worsening symptoms, including:
- Severe or worsening pain
- New or worsening swelling
- Tingling, numbness, or coldness in your toes
- Change of color in your toes (darkening)
You can also call our office if you experience a problem with your walking cast, splint, or brace, or if you have any other questions or concerns about your recovery.
Ready to learn how custom orthotics can help you? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at one of the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center locations in Texas.