If you have a broken ankle or broken foot, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Immediate, throbbing pain
- Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest
- Difficulty in walking or bearing weight
- Problems getting a shoe on or off
Some people feel or hear a snap at the time of injury and assume that means something has broken. However, a snapping sound or feeling is not always a sign of a fracture.
When to see a doctor: See a doctor if the pain and swelling last for more than two or three days, or if pain interferes with walking.
Complications of a broken ankle or broken foot are uncommon, but may include:
- Arthritis. Fractures that extend into the joint can cause arthritis years later. If your ankle or foot starts to hurt long after a break, see your doctor for an evaluation.
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis). If you have an open fracture, meaning one end of the bone protrudes through the skin, your bone may be exposed to bacteria that cause infection.
- Compartment syndrome. This condition causes pain, swelling and sometimes disability in affected muscles of the legs or arms. Compartment syndrome usually occurs in high-impact injuries, such as a car or motorcycle accident.
- Nerve or blood vessel damage. Trauma to the foot or ankle can injure adjacent nerves and blood vessels, sometimes actually tearing them. Seek immediate attention if you notice any numbness or circulation problems. Lack of blood flow can cause a bone to die and collapse.
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