Dislocated ankle

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A dislocated ankle is a serious injury that typically occurs along with a fracture or full rupture of the lateral ankle ligaments. The injury can be categorized as anterior, posterior or superior.

What are the indications?

The indications of a dislocated ankle are quite evident such as:

  • Abrupt intense pain
  • Loss of normal function
  • Evident deformity and misalignment of the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg
  • Tingling or numbness in the foot indicates as possible nerve injury

A dislocated ankle is considered uncommon and usually linked with a fracture. The reason for this is the strength and complexity of the ankle which makes it unlikely to dislocate. Once it occurs though, it is due to an indirect trauma that forces the ankle to abnormally bend. Take note that the ankle can dislocate in any direction and cause intense pain.

Dislocated ankle
The initial treatment for a dislocated ankle is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) if possible until medical attention can be pursued.

For an ankle dislocate, all the ligaments on one side should rupture. This typically occurs on the exterior of the ankle with 3 ligaments where 1 or 2 of these are usually damaged during an ankle sprain.


The initial treatment for a dislocated ankle is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) if possible until medical attention can be pursued.

In most cases, an X-ray is taken initially before attempting to manipulate or reduce the bones into position since it is essential to identify any associated fractures. Once the X-ray result has been analyzed, the doctor will relocate the ankle. This can be carried out with manipulation but also requires surgery. If a fracture is present, surgery is needed which involves the placement of plates and screws to restore its position and stability of the joint.

After treatment, a cast is required to be used for several weeks or crutches might be used. During this period, activities that place weight on the ankle must be avoided. Physical therapy is the last step to restore the normal movement of the ankle.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a dislocated ankle is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to provide care for a dislocation, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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