A lateral malleolus (muh-LEE-uh-lus) fracture is a type of broken
ankle that happens when part of the fibula just above the ankle joint fractures.
More to Know
The bony knobs on the inside and outside of the ankle are called the malleoli,
which is the plural form of malleolus. The knob on the outside of the ankle, the lateral
malleolus, is the end of the fibula, the smaller bone
in the lower leg. When this part of the bone fractures, or breaks, it's called a lateral
malleolar fracture. This type of fracture can be caused by twisting of the foot and
ankle, a trip or fall, or a direct blow to the ankle.
Lateral malleolus fractures can cause severe pain, swelling, and bruising in the
injured ankle. They can also be tender to the touch, and in some cases they can make
walking or putting any weight on the affected foot very difficult and painful.
The lateral malleolus can fracture at a number of different levels, and treatment
often depends on where the fracture is located. If the broken bone is not out of place
and the ankle is stable, treatment may consist of just wearing a special boot or cast
to immobilize the ankle as it heals.
In some cases, though, surgery
has to be performed to align the bone and hold it together with metal plates, rods,
or screws. In general, it takes at least 6 weeks for the broken malleolus to heal.
Keep in Mind
A lateral malleolus fracture usually requires the person to keep weight off
the affected foot for a few weeks. In most cases, people return to normal daily activities
within 3 to 4 months. Stretching and strengthening exercises supervised by a doctor
or physical therapist can help improve ankle function and mobility during the healing
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