The talus bone plays a crucial role in the ability to stand upright and be mobile. When this bone is fractured, our expert foot doctors at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists will administer the treatment you need and Three Lakes Physical Therapy & Wellness Center will then provide the first-class physical therapy services you deserve.
Ankle Anatomy 101
The ankle is a vital part of the human structure that enables us to participate in favorite activities and attend to needed responsibilities alike. There are actually two different joints that are colloquially referred to as the “ankle” – the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint.
The true ankle joint is responsible for up-and-down movement of the foot in relationship to the leg and is comprised of the talus (ankle) bone and the two lower leg bones (the fibula and tibia) that sit upon it. The subtalar joint allows the foot to move in a side-to-side fashion and is where the talus meets the calcaneus (heel) bone.
Types of Talus Fractures
As is the case with any type of fractured bone, not all talus breaks are identical. They can happen in any part of the bone and range in severity, which is used to classify them:
- Minimally-displaced fractures are barely out of their intended positioning and the broken ends line up quite well. If a break is going to be experienced, this is the ideal one, since the bones typically stay in the proper location during the healing process, and surgery is not required.
- Displaced fractures are the equivalent of compound fractures, wherein the bone has broken into different pieces and they do not align for proper healing. Highly displaced fractures tend to be rather unstable and, in most cases, require a surgical procedure to line up the pieces for proper healing.
- Open fractures refer to the bone having broken through the skin and they come with a risk of infection and complications. With an open fracture, there is an increased likelihood that the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) surrounding the talus will have been damaged as well.
In most cases, a talus will have broken in its mid-portion (the “neck”), but it isn’t particularly uncommon for the damage to happen along the outside edge of the bone (the “lateral process”).
Talus Fracture Causes and Symptoms
Generally speaking, a talus will most likely have been broken as the result of an auto accident, a high fall, or another high-impact collision that causes physical trauma. Although less common, sports injuries are another cause of talus fractures.
As with other forms of broken bones, the prevailing symptom is acute pain. Following the injury, there will be an inability to bear weight or walk. Tenderness, swelling, and bruising are other symptoms that are commonly experienced with this injury.
Treatment and Recovery
The course of treatment necessary for a fractured talus depends on the classification. Earlier we had noted that minimally-displaced fractures do not typically require surgery. In these cases, casting and rehabilitation are the main staples of a successful treatment program. When a cast is used, it is typically worn for 6 to 8 weeks before it can be removed. Even with the cast, the amount of pressure placed on the affected ankle needs to be limited.
For displaced and open fractures, a surgical procedure will often need to be used to line up the pieces of the bone and stabilize the injury. Recovering from the surgery will take some time and unfold in a process that starts with simply moving the foot a bit, then progressing to physical therapy, and ultimately ramping up to weight-bearing.
Talus Fracture Treatment and Rehab in Austin, TX
A broken ankle can certainly be a depressing injury, but you can take comfort in the fact that you have Austin’s best orthopedic surgeons working for you! Additionally, our Three Lakes Physical Therapy & Wellness Center complements the work we do here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, so you know you are in good hands all the way through your recovery.For more information, contact our Austin, TX office by calling (512) 328-8900 or simply schedule your appointment with us online today.