Get medical advice as soon as possible if you think you've broken your ankle. It may need treatment to heal properly.
Do not worry if you're not sure if your ankle is broken, dislocated or sprained. Get it checked by a doctor.
Immediate action required: Go to A&E if:
You've had an injury and:
- your ankle is at an odd angle
- a bone is sticking out of your ankle
- you have a bad cut or wound on your ankle
- you're in severe pain
- your toes look blue or white, or feel numb
If you cannot get to A&E by yourself, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
What we mean by severe pain
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- always there
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
- comes and goes
- is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities
While you're waiting to see a doctor
If you think you’ve broken your ankle, there are some things you can do while you’re waiting to see a doctor.
- raise your ankle if possible
- gently hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
- stop any bleeding – put pressure on the wound using a clean cloth or dressing
- wrap your ankle loosely in a bandage to help support it (if your ankle is not at an odd angle)
- remove any jewellery on your ankle or toes
- take paracetamol
- not take ibuprofen until you have seen a doctor
- not eat or drink anything in case you need surgery
- not move or put weight on your ankle if possible
Treatments for a broken ankle
You'll usually have an X-ray to check if your ankle is broken and see how bad the break is.
If you have a very minor break, you may not need any treatment.
For a more serious break, you may need:
- a special boot to help support your ankle
- a plaster cast to hold your ankle in place while it heals
- the bones to be moved back into place by a doctor (they'll give you an injection to numb your ankle)
- surgery to fix the broken bones
You'll usually have follow-up appointments to check your ankle is healing properly.
Recovering from a broken ankle
A broken ankle usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal, but it can take longer.
The doctor will tell you:
- how long you'll have to wear the boot or have the plaster cast on
- how much weight to put on your ankle – you may be given crutches or a walking frame to help keep weight off it
Once it's healed, use your ankle as normal. Moving it will stop it getting stiff.
You may need to see a physiotherapist. They can help you with exercises to get your foot and ankle gently moving again.
Ask your doctor when you can return to contact sports or other activities that put a lot of strain on your ankle.
Things you can do to help your recovery
It's important to follow any advice you're given by the hospital or fracture clinic.
There are some things you can do to ease pain and help your broken ankle recover.
rest and raise your ankle whenever possible
take paracetamol or the painkiller your doctor has given you to ease pain
gently move your toes and bend your knee while wearing the boot or cast to ease stiff muscles
do not get your plaster cast wet
do not carry heavy things
do not move your ankle too much
do not use anything to scratch under your cast
Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 or go to an urgent treatment centre if:
You're recovering from a broken ankle and:
- the pain in your ankle gets worse
- your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
- your leg, foot or toes start to feel numb or like they're burning
- your leg, foot or toes look swollen, or turn blue or white
- the plaster cast or boot is rubbing, or feels too tight or too loose
- there's a bad smell or discharge from under your cast
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Page last reviewed: 11 March 2022
Next review due: 11 March 2025