A broken ankle is also known as an ankle “fracture.” This means that one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. A fractured ankle can range from a simple break in one bone, which may not stop you from walking, to several fractures, which force your ankle out of place and may require that you not put weight on it for a few months. There may be ligaments damaged as well. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position.
The procedures for ankle fracture surgery treatment differ based on the specific type of fracture that you have. Fractures like a lateral malleolus fracture of the fibula, where the fracture is simply out of place or unstable, can be fixed with simple alignment surgery. During this type of procedure, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment. They are held together with special screws and metal plates attached to the outer surface of the bone. It takes at least 6 weeks for the broken bones to heal. It may take longer for the involved ligaments and tendons to heal.
Your doctor will most likely monitor the bone healing with repeated x-rays. It is very important to not put weight on your ankle until your physician says you can. If you put weight on the injured ankle too early, the fracture fragments may move or your surgery may fail and you may have to start over. Your specific fracture determines when you can start putting weight on your ankle. Your physician will allow you to start putting weight on your ankle when he or she feels your injury is stable enough to do so.