Q. I was playing basketball last weekend when I landed on my opponent’s foot and twisted my left ankle. I felt a snap and I was taken to the emergency room. The doctor put my ankle in a splint and told me that I had an ankle fibula fracture that probably would require surgery.
I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed the fibula fracture but said it would likely heal well without surgery. I would have to be in a cast as well as non-weight bearing for four weeks, followed by a walking cast for four weeks and then physical therapy. The doctor estimated that there would be no basketball for four months.
If I had surgery, would I be more likely to heal normally and return to basketball sooner?
A: There are many different types of ankle fractures that are determined by the force of the injury and the method of twisting and contact.
When making a decision on whether surgery is necessary, the doctor will determine if the bones and ankle joint are properly lined up.
If surgery is not recommended, the physician would decide what style of cast and weight-bearing status would be needed so not to allow the bony alignment to shift out of place.
The fracture heals at the same rate whether it heals by itself without surgery, with a rod insertion or has a metal plate and screws inserted to maintain alignment. Thus, it is unlikely that you would be able to return to sports any sooner with surgery, although surgery may allow rehab to begin sooner.
I recommend you discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net