Once the initial evaluation is complete, the goal of emergency treatment of an ankle dislocation begins with trying to reduce the injury, returning the bones as close as possible to their normal anatomic position. Often the bones will fall back into place with gentle traction. Sometimes medication is required to sedate the patient and help the surrounding muscles relax.
If there is evidence that the blood and nerve supply to the foot are in jeopardy or if the skin is tented and stretched and the clinical diagnosis of ankle dislocation is made, attempts to reduce the ankle joint may be necessary even before an X-ray is taken to preserve nerve and blood vessel function.
Once the ankle is reduced, examination of the blood and nerve supply to the foot is repeated and a temporary plaster or fiberglass splint is placed.
An orthopedic or podiatric consultation may need to occur emergently, especially if there are unstable fractures present, if nerve or artery damage exists, or if the ankle cannot be reduced and an emergency operation is needed.
Even if the ankle dislocation is reduced, many times an operation is eventually required to stabilize the structures that were damaged. The decision as to whether surgery is required and what type of surgery might be needed is individualized for each patient and their situation.
After the initial treatment is complete, whether or not surgery is required, rehabilitation may take six to 12 weeks before returning the patient to their pre-injury activities.