Focus On: Ankle Fractures

What is an ankle fracture?

Ankle fractures are extremely common and can be classified in various ways depending on the mechanism by which the fracture occurred and where the bony and ligament lesions are.

The most commonly used classification systems are:
1) Lauge-Hansen
2) Danis-Weber

What happens if I fracture my ankle?

Treatment can be more conservative if the ankle is still relatively stable through non-invasive reduction and immobilisation (such as with a walking boot or cast).

However, if the fracture is severe enough surgical intervention may be required, again with immobilisation after the surgery. Surgery may include the use of metal splints and screws to help stabilise the joint again.

Either way it’s important to discuss with your doctor the most appropriate treatment plan for you, to help reduce pain, increase healing and recovery, and the best course of action to help prevent issues further on down the line.

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy after an ankle fracture?

  • The body’s natural buoyancy in water relieves body weight, allowing for more functional movements sooner after the surgery (such as walking, squatting, lunging or step up’s).
  • The hydrostatic pressure of the water has positive effects on reducing swelling, which in turn improves blood flow and helps regain more range of motion and reduces pain.
  • Further positive influences on pain regulation are due to the relaxation effect of warm water and suppression of the sympathetic nervous system associated with water immersion.
  • The sensory input of the water can also increase body position sense enabling improved feelings of balance and confidence.
  • Through increased confidence and reduced pain patients are able to move more freely, which often leads them to report reduced fear and anxiety about the recent surgery. This has a feed forward effect, where future behaviours and movements over the early stages of recovery will potentially determine long term outcomes.

When can I start hydrotherapy?

As soon as the cast comes off! The prime time to start pool therapy is as soon as possible after surgery.