At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, an injury that we see frequently at this time of the year is a snowboarder fracture--officially known as a lateral talar process fracture.
A lateral talar process fracture is a fracture on the outside of the lower ankle bone. It occurs when the foot jams suddenly forcing the lower ankle bone to push into the adjoining bone. This is an action that frequently occurs during snowboarding (such as when coming to a sudden stop) and hence the name: snowboarder fracture.
Signs and Symptoms
One of the reasons that snowboarder fractures are often misdiagnosed is because the symptoms can resemble those of a sprained ankle:
- Extreme pain in the ankle
- Difficult or unable to bear weight on the ankle
A regular x-ray of the ankle may or may not reveal a lateral talar process fracture. Often times these types of fractures are not visible on an x-ray and if the diagnostic testing stops there the conclusion may be that the patient has a bad ankle sprain. Our foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, will want to know how the injury occurred. Oftentimes an MRI or CT scan will be ordered as these types of fractures are much more easily seen in these imaging tests.
If the fracture has resulted in significant displacement of the bones or the bone is shattered and there are fragments surgery may be necessary to debride (or clean out) the injured area and also to set the bone. If the fracture is less severe, immobilizing the ankle and avoiding weight bearing for a period of time will allow for healing to occur. Either way, the patient will be unable to bear weight for 6-8 weeks.
Proper diagnosis and treatment are very important. Misdiagnosed or improperly rehabilitated ankle injuries can lead to chronic ankle instability, a greater likelihood of future sprains and early onset of ankle arthritis.
Even if you have had your ankle injury evaluated at the emergency room, be sure to follow up with an appointment at our Somers Point office by calling: (609) 927-4894.