Dislocated Ankle

Proper Treatments for a Dislocated Ankle

A dislocated ankle is caused by injury.  For instance, a student playing football could take a hard hit while running the ball toward the goal line, only to trip or fall at an odd angle and causing injury, a person could experience a car accident, or someone could perhaps even step off a curb wrong.  Although the ankle bone is quite strong, accidents do happen.  Obviously, no matter the cause the dislocated ankle would need to be treated or repaired, which is what we want to discuss in this article.

Non-Hospital Care

Once the ankle has been dislocated, it is essential that it be immobilized.  Otherwise, the neurovascular structure could be compromised, leading to extremely serious problems.  However, if it has been identified that damage has already started to occur, you can do a few things to prevent further damage.  For one thing, check to see if the skin around the dislocated ankle is cold, if there is any discoloration, and feel for a pulse in the foot below the dislocation.

If the individual were being treated by a paramedic on scene, these signs of neurovascular damage would be looked for and if found, the ankle must be realigned immediately and while extremely painful, ultimately it would potentially save the foot from amputation.  To align the ankle, counter traction would be used along with inline traction.  By using traction or even splinting the ankle after realignment, this would provide needed time to seek emergency treatment at the hospital.

In addition, paramedics would start an IV to administer some type of pain medication to keep the person as comfortable as possible and to prevent him or her from going into shock.  Typically, paramedics would administer opioids via the IV but if for some reason those were not available, they would administer benzodiazepine instead.

Hospital Emergency Room

After arriving at the hospital with a dislocated ankle, the medical team would go to work right away to reduce any risk or further neurovascular risk.  In addition, the team would reduce articular cartilage damage in the case of vascular compromise before an x-rays were taken.  From there, post-reduction x-rays would be ordered and used to realign the dislocated ankle.  Of course, while in the emergency room, the individual would be administered pain medication as deemed appropriate and possibly anti-inflammatory medication.

Emergency Treatment

In many cases of a dislocated ankle, the foot and ankle have become unstable along with the lateral or medial ligaments being disrupted.  In addition, risk of tiblofibular syndesmosis exists so it is imperative that immediate podiatric or orthopedic intervention be provided.  Sometimes, simply realigning the dislocated ankle is all that is needed but other times when damage to the ligament has been done or a fracture accompanies the dislocation, surgery would be considered the appropriate course of action.

Healing Time at Home

Once the appropriate form of treatment has been provided for the dislocated ankle, the person would be sent home with pain and anti-inflammation medication.  It would also be common for the person to be required to stay off the ankle completely for a period of time, using crutches, walker, or wheelchair to get around.  Although many people heal well in about six to ten weeks, often the full recovery period for a dislocated ankle can take months.