An Easier Recovery From Ankle Fracture Trauma

October 28th, 2019

By serving as an orthopaedic surgeon for over two decades, I have been able to treat countless patients with ankle fractures. Over the years, my treatment has evolved toward a better approach for patient recovery. Through immense experience, I have discovered that the typical casts and weight-bearing restrictions implemented on patients after surgery were not always the best option. Instead, I provide my patients with a removable boot. This practice allows for better results. Now, the methods I use to treat ankle fracture patients at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute are being shared and practiced among orthopaedic surgeons all over the world.

Patient Recovery from Ankle Fractures

Simply put, all I’ve done for the past 20 years is fix broken bones. Sometimes I fix broken bones that other orthopaedic surgeons are unable to fix. These fractures are often unusual and difficult to treat. Many times, I care for fractures that have not healed properly after a previous treatment. As a result, fixing routine fractures has become straight forward. I’ve become accustomed to pushing for the optimal outcome, even with the more straightforward procedures. As an orthopaedic surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, it is my goal to push the limits to provide patients with the best treatment options, and outcome.

Ankle fractures, which generally involve a combination of breaks in the bones of the ankle and injuries to the ligaments that hold them together, are common injuries. They are often caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward. They can range from less serious ankle avulsion injuries to more severe situations in which multiple bones have breaks.

Ankle Fracture Treatment

Often, I find that surgery is required to treat ankle fractures. Such a procedure allows me to restore proper alignment to the broken bone, which is essential for full recovery. Because arthritis is not an uncommon occurrence after an ankle fracture, performing surgery to recreate a normal ankle joint is often the most effective way to minimize this risk. I pride myself in offering my patients at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute with the best treatment options, specific to their ankle condition.

A Modern Approach To Ankle Fracture Trauma

Many surgeons who treat ankle fractures place patients in a cast and restrict weight-bearing. I have always felt that was overkill. For the past 15 years, I have been placing most patients in a removable boot after surgery, allowing them to bear weight right away.

For years this was unusual. While in Seattle, at the University of Washington, we decided to write this article providing evidence for this practice. Simultaneously, a large group of Canadian surgeons studied this very issue and found the same results: patients have a much easier recovery after ankle fracture surgery with this protocol and faced no risk that many orthopaedic surgeons previously assumed.

This study concluded that, in certain ankle fracture patients, immediate weight-bearing as tolerated is “a safe alternative to a period of protected weight-bearing”, such as a cast. In fact, this earlier weight-bearing was shown to be associated with several benefits, including better mobility, a decreased hospital stay, and an earlier return to work. Certainly, not having to wear a cast and being able to bear weight makes getting around much easier.

Bottom line, because of this practice, my patients have a much easier recovery from ankle fracture surgery. It may not matter in the long run, but some people care about the short run as well as the long run. I would bet that if you could give patients the choice upfront, the vast majority would want this treatment protocol for their ankle fracture treatment. I sure would. 

Treatment at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute

This approach to ankle fracture treatment and recovery is just one example of how the team at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute is making revolutionary strides in orthopaedics every day. As international leaders in research and development, we are constantly looking for a better way to serve our patients. Of course, we do not stop with just our patients; my story is just one example of the way that our methods have been forerunners in innovation that help patients all over the world. 

For more information about ankle fracture treatments at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 1-800-321-9999. 


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