The ankle joint is composed of 2 joints: the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint. Ankle fractures refer to fractures of the distal tibia, distal fibula, talus, and calcaneus. The true ankle joint contains the tibia (medial wall), fibula (lateral wall), and talus (the floor upon which the tibia and fibula rest). The true ankle joint allows dorsiflexion and plantar flexion or the “up and down” movement of the ankle. The foot can be made to point toward the floor or toward the ceiling via the true ankle joint.
The subtalar joint consists of the talus and the calcaneus. The subtalar joint allows the foot to be inverted or everted, that is, the sole of the foot can be made to face inward (inverted) or face outward (everted) through the subtalar joint.
During evaluation of ankle fractures, the mechanism of injury (eg, eversion, inversion, dorsiflexion, plantar flexion), associated injuries (eg, vascular, ligamentous, capsular), the need for immobilization (eg, application of a splint), and the need for referral to a specialist for further treatment or evaluation (eg, additional immobilization, surgery, or rehabilitation) are all important components of care.
For more information on fractures, see Medscape’s Fracture Resource Center.