Get Treatment For Pilon Fracture of the Ankle

Great Surgical Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Pilon Fracture of the Ankle Treatment?

By the state-of-the-art technology our hospital is equipped with, we can treat pilon fractures of the ankle with minimal postoperative risks. We have been providing healthcare to the community of Los Angeles for over 50 years, and our medical team will go to great lengths to restore the function of your ankle so that you can enjoy a high quality of life once again. If you choose to treat your pilon fracture of the ankle at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, you will receive the healthcare you need in a warm and compassionate environment.

A pilon fracture occurs when the shinbone, medically known as the tibia, breaks near the ankle. In most cases, it includes fractures in both the tibia and the fibula of the lower leg, as the lower ends of these bones make up a portion of the ankle.

The term “pilon” is of French origin, and it means pestle, a tool used for crushing since these fractures often happen due to a high-energy impact injury. Because of the strong impact that leads to a pilon fracture of the ankle, numerous people who have this injury have additional ones.

While pilon fractures of the ankle are quite rare, particularly in children and the elderly, they have become more common over recent years because air bags have increased the number of people who survive high-speed car crashes.

Surgery is not necessary for everyone with a pilon fracture of the ankle; if the bones of your tibia still line up correctly, your fracture will heal by itself. However, your doctor will recommend the following nonsurgical treatments to promote the healing process and alleviate your symptoms:

  • splints to hold your ankle in place
  • casts or boots after swelling disappears
  • pain relievers

Nevertheless, if the bones of your tibia are out of place, you will most likely need to undergo surgery. Your doctor may temporarily delay your surgery until the swelling of your leg goes down. While you are waiting, you may need to have a splint or other type of immobilization on your leg.

During surgery, the surgeon will perform internal fixation, which means that they will permanently put your bones in the correct position to promote their healing. Special plates and screws will keep the bones in the proper place. It is worthy of note that you may need to undergo surgery twice, depending on the severity of your injury.

When your leg heals slightly, your doctor may prescribe you a removable splint or brace so that you can do physical therapy when you discard it, which will considerably speed up the healing process and help you learn how to use your leg again. These exercises will help restore your range of motion and strength in your leg.

Furthermore, you will need to use crutches or a cane for several months after your surgery. Your doctor may also administer a blood thinner to prevent the formation of blood clots in your leg while you recover.

Finally, your doctor may also advise you about your diet, such as making sure you have a rich calcium, vitamin D, and protein diet, to speed up bone healing. They may also tell you not to take certain over-the-counter drugs for pain, as they may interfere with bone healing. If you smoke, your doctor may encourage you to quit because this can significantly interfere with bone healing as well.

Symptoms of a Pilon Fracture of the Ankle

The most common symptoms of a pilon fracture of the ankle are:

  • swelling of the ankle and leg
  • bruising of the leg and ankle
  • severe ankle pain
  • inability to put weight on your foot
  • having your ankle looking crooked or deformed

Diagnosis of a Pilon Fracture of the Ankle

The diagnostic process of a pilon fracture of the ankle begins with your doctor asking you about the symptoms you are experiencing. They will subsequently conduct a complete physical exam during which they will look at your lower leg and ankle and carefully examine them. For example, your doctor may push on different areas of the leg to determine if they are painful to the touch and check the area for swelling.

They will also ensure that the blood supply to your foot and ankle has not been affected by the fracture. Afterward, they will order X-rays or a CT scan of your lower leg to see your injury's particularities, which will help your doctor decide on the most effective treatment approach for you.

The leading cause of pilon fractures of the ankle is high-energy impacts such as falls from great heights, motor vehicle accidents, and skiing accidents. Usually, the force of the impact drives a bone from the foot (the talus) into the tibia, and the energy from the impact breaks the tibia and the fibula. It often causes other injuries as well.

Prevention of a pilon fracture if you sustain a high-energy impact injury is futile. Still, you can avoid it by wearing adequate protective equipment when skiing and being careful not to fall if you are located at a great height.

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