Ankle Fracture Causes

A fractured or broken ankle involves breaking one or more of the three bones that make up the ankle. According to the Mayo Clinic, the severity of the fracture can range from a small crack to a shattering break that can pierce the skin. Regardless, you will likely experience immediate, throbbing pain, pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest, swelling, bruising, tenderness, deformity and possible cuts or punctures from bone fragments. Treatments can range from rest to surgical repair. You should be aware of the causes of ankle fracture in order to prevent one from occurring.


Stress fractures, or small cracks in bone, are common fractures that can occur in the ankle. These small cracks can occur when overdoing physical activity, such as running long distances or playing basketball for extended periods of time. Stress fractures occur because the muscles that support the ankle can become too tired to absorb the shock associated with physical activity. When these muscles tire, the shock is then transferred to bone, which can result in a stress fracture. Therefore, be sure to incorporate non-weight bearing exercises, such as biking and swimming, into your fitness routine to avoid stress fractures.


According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), falls are a common cause of ankle fractures. Falls are more likely to occur among the elderly, but can occur to anyone who trips over an object or a crack in the floor or street. The AAOS reports that doctors are noticing an increase in ankle fractures among the elderly population. Therefore, if you are older or are living with an elderly person, make sure all hallways are clear of debris or objects that may cause a fall.


An ankle fracture can occur in a traumatic event, such as a car accident. These types of fractures are more severe and usually involve shattered bones that may or may not pierce the skin. These fractures commonly require surgical repair and may include internal fixation with screws or plates. The implants will keep the broken bones of the foot together as they heal. After healing, plates and screws are usually left in the ankle unless they present problems, such as pain and discomfort, in the future. Be sure to follow the doctor’s rehabilitation plan, which may include physical therapy, to ensure optimal recovery.

About this Author

Jacques Courseault, M.D., began writing professionally in 2007. He is currently the fitness editor for, founder and writer of, and co-founder of Don’t Weight to Lose. He is a resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Courseault received his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Tulane University, and is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine.