Sprains are tears in the ligaments, which are parts of your body that connect bones together. In severe sprains that aren't healing correctly, a surgeon may need to go into the ankle and reconnect the ends of the ligaments together, and/or remove any loose pieces in the ankle.

Ankle fracture repair is surgery to repair a broken ankle. The procedure is known as an open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). First, the surgeon repositions the two ends of the fracture into their normal alignment (reduction). The surgeon then inserts special pins, plates or screws to hold the bones together in the proper position as they heal (internal fixation). Normally, the metalwork is not removed unless it becomes a problem. The ankle is immobilized in a cast, splint or removable brace for several weeks to enhance the healing process. 

Anatomy

The ankle is a complex joint that forms where three bones come together: the tibia (shinbone), the fibula (the small bone of the lower leg) and the talus (a foot bone that sits above the heel bone). The tibia and fibula are above the joint and the talus is below the joint. Numerous ligaments surround the ankle joint, connecting the bones to each other.

When is surgery recommended?

If your ankle sprain is not healing or unstable, you may need surgery. Surgery is not common for ankle sprains.

If your ankle fracture is severe, unstable or not healing properly, repair surgery may be necessary. Surgery is needed if any bone has broken through the skin, a condition known as a compound fracture.

What is the recovery time?

You will need to wear a cast or a protective boot after your surgery. Follow your doctor's instructions for when you can put weight on your foot again. Even after you can walk, it may take longer to regain full movement of the lower leg and foot. For most patients, physical therapy is necessary to restore strength, flexibility and range of motion. How soon you return to work and activities depends on the sprain or fracture’s severity and the type of work you do. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.