If you’re suffering from an ankle fracture, you’ll most likely require immobilization and proper rest for a few weeks. Doctors will tell you not to put any weight on the injured ankle for up to a few months. And that’s where the crutches come into play to resolve your mobility issue and reduce recovery time.
Crutches assist in mobility while you’ve got an injured foot. Your ortho will most likely mold a plaster cast and prescribe crutches to help you keep weight off your affected leg. But there are other mobility aids like walkers, knee scooters, or wheelchairs; why do crutches make the best support aid for a broken ankle? We’ll find the answer in this article.
Crutches and their Functions
A Crutch is a kind of mobility aid that provides temporary support for anyone struggling with a mobility issue. It’s a long stick ergonomically designed with a crosspiece at its top. People with impaired gait use it as a support under the armpit or around the forearm.
Depending on their design, there are mainly two types of crutches: underarm or axilla crutches and forearm or loftstrand crutches. You can use these in pairs or singly. Underarm crutches are used frequently by people with different leg injuries, including a broken or sprained ankle.
Doctors prescribe this because one can’t put weight on the broken ankle too soon or before the ankle bones heal properly. So a single crutch or a pair of crutches can help the mobility without putting weight on the leg. There are more its functions. Crutches can help one’s mobility and functionality better in the following ways:
- Crutches improve the stability and balance by widening the support base for people with a broken ankle
- They transfer the weight from the legs to the upper body reducing the weight load on the affected lower limb.
- Crutches help one to take even, stable, and flexible gaits so one can maneuver to anywhere they want.
- They also help to regain upright movement with improved blood circulation.
Why Crutches Make the Best Mobility Aid for a Broken Ankle
There are a few non weight bearing support aids like the knee scooter or wheelchair. But what makes crutches the go-to option after an ankle fracture? Here are some of the reasons:
One of the best things about crutches is that they can be used for different walking patterns or gaits. You can use them as two-point or three-point crutch gaits. People who broke their ankles need this flexibility to continue doing their regular activities for the time being. No other walking aid is as flexible as the crutches.
Crutches, whether underarm or forearm, come in a compact size that allows the individual to use them in tight spaces such as the bathroom. The small size also makes it easy to transport and helps one with an injured ankle do the outside activities.
Use on Staircases
You must use crutches if you’ve got a broken ankle and need to climb stairs for some reason without hurting the injured area. It lets you take even strides and adjust accordingly while coming down or climbing stairs. However, it’s recommended to take assistance while using them on stairs.
Crutches are the least expensive mobility aid. Since a broken ankle sufferer needs temporary support aid, one won’t like to go with expensive options like the wheelchair or knee scooter.
When and for How Long do You Need Crutches After Ankle Fracture
Now let’s take when and how long you could expect to use the crutches.
When Are Crutches Prescribed
You must go through an evaluation to help the doctor decide your treatment options. If you have severe pain, you could be given painkillers. Then, based on your x-ray and other assessment, your doctor will decide whether you need ankle surgery or not.
According to NHS UK, If the broken bone is in position after the injury, you may be given nonsurgical treatment. Your orthopedic surgeon will probably mold a half or full plaster cast around the ankle to keep the bone in place and heal properly.
After the treatment, you may be asked to go home with many instructions to take care of the affected leg and the cast. These instructions could be about using crutches to walk, the amount of weight to put on the leg, and other tips to boost the recovery. They should train you how to use crutches and also let you know for how long you’ve to use them.
How Long Should You Use the Crutches
According to AAOS, patients with ankle injuries generally use crutches for around 6 to 8 weeks, but severe fractures may require more time. You can get rid of the crutches once your ankle bones heal properly and the doctor thinks putting weight on the leg is fine.
After that, your fracture clinic may recommend follow-up physiotherapy appointments to help you recover muscle strength on the ankle and walk normally again.
Tips to Use Crutches More Effectively with Broken Ankle
Many fear crutches as they’re difficult to balance initially and may require some time to get used to. They also require upper body strength and can cause fatigue and soreness.
But generally, the body acclimates to it after some time. To use it more effectively, here we’ve got some tips for you:
- Make your crutches more comfortable by using padded or cushioned crutch covers and handgrips
- Don’t pressurize your armpits to support yourself; instead, use its handgrips
- Keep the crutches as close as possible to your body
- Don’t carry weight or move too quickly
- In case of using a single crutch, make sure to place it under the arm opposite to the affected leg
- Wear flat-bottom shoes or a set of the walking boot along with the crutches for more stability
Medical experts in AAOS emphasize using mobility aids like crutches after an ankle injury. Here we’ve seen many reasons you should use crutches for walking with a broken ankle. But make sure to choose the best pair of crutches and abide by the instructions properly. Otherwise, you can find yourself in a spot of bother!
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