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Ankle Fracture


Ankle injuries are among the most common sports-related injuries to the leg. The ankle is a complex joint formed by three bones: the tibia (shinbone), fibula (smaller calf bone) and talus (a bone located between the heel bone and the bottom ends of the tibia and fibula). Specific parts of the tibia and fibula make up the ankle joint. The inside part of the tibia is called the medial malleolus, and the end of the fibula is called the lateral malleolus.

The ankle is stabilized by the bony architecture as well as three distinct groups of ligaments: the syndesmotic ligaments, the lateral collateral ligaments and the medial collateral ligaments.

Our approach to ankle fracture

Broken ankles may require surgery, depending on the type and severity of the fracture. At UCSF, our team includes highly trained orthopedic surgeons who specialize in repairing the small tendons and bones of the ankle and foot, as well as podiatrists, physical therapists and pedorthists (specialists in modified footwear and supportive devices for the lower leg). Our goals are to relieve pain and restore mobility, so patients can return to their normal lives and the activities they enjoy. We offer doctor's appointments, medical imaging and physical therapy in one convenient location.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • usnews-orthopedics

    One of the nation's best for orthopedic care

Signs & symptoms

Patients with ankle fractures will have pain, tenderness and swelling at the injury site.


In patients with ankle injuries, X-rays are taken to see whether there is a fracture.


Ankle fractures may require surgery based on the stability of the ankle joint.

Lateral malleolus fractures are the most common type of ankle fracture. Isolated fractures of the lateral malleolus can usually be treated without surgery. But injuries involving the medial or syndesmotic complex of ligaments, or fractures involving both the medial and lateral malleolus bones, typically require surgery to reestablish the bony architecture of the joint and stabilize the ankle. During the procedure, surgeons reposition the bone fragments and insert plates and screws to hold them in place.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Recommended reading

Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries

Foot/ankle injuries are common in sports, especially running, tennis and soccer. But enthusiasts can decrease the risk of injury by taking these precautions.

Treating Ankle Injuries

Ankle sprains are the most common ankle injury among regular athletes and weekend warriors, affecting an estimated 27,000 Americans per day. Learn more.

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