Ankle fracture injuries
Ankle fractures are a common and potentially debilitating injury that can significantly impact mobility and quality of life. Ankle fractures are injuries that occur to the bones of the ankle, namely the tibia, fibula, and talus. These injuries can range from simple stress fractures to complex breaks involving multiple bones and joint surfaces.
In personal injury law practice in Atlanta, we often see ankle fractures resulting from trips, falls, and direct impact in car and truck accidents. There are several types of ankle fractures, categorized by the location and extent of the break. These can include lateral malleolus fractures (outside of the ankle), medial malleolus fractures (inside of the ankle), or bimalleolar and trimalleolar fractures, involving two or all three malleoli respectively.
Typically, an ankle fracture presents with intense pain immediately after the injury, which can become worse with movement or pressure. The ankle might also appear deformed or out of place, and there may be swelling or bruising. In severe cases, the broken bone may even puncture the skin, a condition known as an open or compound fracture. In one case we handled, our client was struck by a passenger shuttle cart in an airport terminal. The entire incident was caught on the airport security video camera, and showed her ankle flopping from side to side as there was a complete break of both the tibia and fibula.
Even if the fracture is less obvious than in that case, it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention if an ankle fracture is suspected. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to complications like improper healing, chronic pain, and arthritis.
Diagnosis of an ankle fracture typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests, like X-rays or CT scans, to determine the extent of the fracture. Treatment can vary significantly depending on the severity of the fracture.
For minor ankle fractures, non-surgical treatments like rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE method) may suffice, along with immobilizing the ankle with a cast or boot. Pain relief medications can also be prescribed to manage discomfort.
In more severe cases, surgery is often necessary to realign and stabilize the bones. This might involve the use of plates, screws, or pins. After surgery, a period of immobilization is necessary for the bones to heal properly.
Ankle joint replacement, also known as total ankle arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate pain and restore function in individuals suffering from severe ankle injury.
Recovery from an ankle fracture can take several weeks to months. The key to a successful recovery is following the prescribed treatment plan and participating in physical therapy. This typically includes exercises to strengthen the ankle and restore mobility and balance. Returning to normal activities should be a gradual process. It’s crucial not to rush recovery as this may lead to re-injury or complications. Your physician will guide you on when and how to safely resume activities.
Ankle joint replacement, also known as total ankle arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate pain and restore function in individuals suffering from severe ankle arthritis or injury. Ankle joint replacement offers an alternative for patients who seek to retain mobility and flexibility in their ankle joint.
During ankle joint replacement surgery, the damaged portions of the ankle joint are removed and replaced with artificial components made of metal and plastic. The procedure involves making an incision on the front of the ankle, accessing the joint, and carefully removing the arthritic bone surfaces. The artificial components are then secured to the remaining healthy bone using cement or press-fit techniques.
One of the key advantages of ankle joint replacement is that it preserves joint motion. Unlike ankle fusion, where the bones are permanently fused together, ankle replacement allows for a range of motion, facilitating walking, running, and other activities. This improved mobility can significantly enhance a patient’s quality of life, particularly for individuals who have been limited by persistent pain and stiffness.
Recovery from ankle joint replacement typically involves a period of immobilization, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation. Patients are advised to avoid weight-bearing activities for a few weeks to allow the surgical site to heal properly.
Physical therapy aims to restore strength, flexibility, and balance. Most patients can expect to return to their normal activities within a few months, although the timeline may vary depending on individual circumstances. As with any surgical procedure, ankle joint replacement carries certain risks, including infection, blood clots, implant loosening, and nerve damage. Therefore, it is crucial for patients to undergo a thorough evaluation and discuss the potential benefits and risks with their orthopedic surgeon. Ankle joint replacement is an effective surgical intervention for individuals suffering from severe ankle arthritis or injury. By restoring joint function and mobility, it can significantly improve the quality of life for patients, enabling them to engage in various activities with decreased pain and increased flexibility.
Physical therapy plays a vital role in the rehabilitation process for individuals recovering from an ankle fracture injury. Physical therapy aims to restore mobility, strength, and flexibility to the injured ankle, as well as improve balance and reduce pain. The initial phase of physical therapy for ankle fracture injury typically focuses on reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation. This may involve techniques such as ice therapy, compression, and elevation. The physical therapist may also recommend the use of assistive devices like crutches or a walking boot to protect the injured ankle and promote healing.
As the healing progresses, the emphasis of physical therapy shifts towards restoring range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Gentle exercises and stretching techniques are introduced to improve ankle mobility and flexibility. These exercises may include ankle circles, toe curls, and gentle calf stretches. The physical therapist will closely monitor the progress and adjust the exercises accordingly to prevent further injury.
As the ankle becomes stronger and more stable, the focus of physical therapy shifts towards improving balance and proprioception. Balance exercises, such as single-leg stance and wobble board exercises, are incorporated to retrain the muscles and ligaments surrounding the ankle joint. These exercises help enhance stability and prevent future ankle sprains or injuries. Throughout the entire rehabilitation process, physical therapy also educates patients on proper body mechanics, gait training, and strategies to prevent re-injury. This may involve teaching patients how to walk with a normal gait pattern, use proper footwear, and engage in safe physical activities. In conclusion, physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery and rehabilitation of individuals with ankle fracture injuries. By incorporating various therapeutic techniques, exercises, and education, physical therapy aims to restore mobility, strength, and function to the injured ankle, allowing patients to regain their independence and return to their normal activities. It is essential for patients to follow their physical therapist’s guidance and actively participate in their rehabilitation to achieve optimal outcomes.
Permanent impairments after ankle fractures. As personal injury attorneys, we coordinate with physicians who objectively evaluate permanent impairments from injuries following established guidelines and criteria. Permanent impairment ratings after ankle fractures are often used to assess the long-term physical limitations and disabilities resulting from the injury. Permanent impairment ratings serve as a measure of the functional loss or disability that remains after an ankle fracture has healed.
The rating is expressed as a percentage, representing the degree of impairment compared to the normal function of a healthy ankle. The evaluation takes into account factors such as pain, range of motion, strength, stability, and functional limitations.
Most often, impairment ratings are determined based on standardized rating systems, such as the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides). Where there are gaps in the AMA Guides, we may look to other ratings systems published by government agencies such as the Veterans Administration.
These rating systems consider various factors, including the severity of the fracture, the presence of complications or associated injuries, the residual pain and stiffness, and any functional limitations in activities of daily living or work-related tasks.
It’s important to note that permanent impairment ratings are not solely based on the physical condition of the ankle joint. They also take into account the impact on the individual’s overall functioning, including their ability to perform work-related tasks and engage in daily activities.
Permanent impairment ratings have significant implications for legal and insurance purposes, as they can affect compensation, disability benefits, and the individual’s ability to return to work. It is crucial for an accurate assessment to be conducted by trained medical professionals who are familiar with the specific rating guidelines and have a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s medical history and functional limitations. In conclusion, permanent impairment ratings after ankle fractures are used to assess the long-term functional limitations resulting from the injury. These ratings consider factors such as pain, range of motion, strength, stability, and functional limitations in activities of daily living and work-related tasks. Accurate and comprehensive evaluations by qualified medical professionals are essential in determining fair and appropriate impairment ratings.
The earlier we are involved in representing the victim of a serious ankle fracture, the better we may be able to steer your case to a successful conclusion.
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Johnson & Ward has been a leading personal injury and wrongful death specialty law firm in Atlanta since 1949. The founders of the firm were also among the founders of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Current partners include former presidents of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association.
Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School, and completed certificate courses in trial practice, negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School.