Pilon fractures are complex breaks of the tibia at the ankle joint. Oftentimes, both the tibia and the fibula fracture near the ankle joint. The word pilon derives from the French word for pestle, which is an instrument used in grinding and crushing. A pilon fracture occurs when the bones in the ankle joint are crushed by a high-energy impact, so you can understand the connection between the injury and the word origin. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, men are three times more likely to suffer a pilon fracture than women. Additionally, the average age of someone with a pilon fracture is between 35 to 40 years old.
Causes of Pilon Fractures
Pilon fractures are usually the result of high-energy impacts. Oftentimes they are the result of:
- Falls from a roof or ladder
- Car/motorcycle accidents
- Skiing accidents
- Falls down a flight of stairs
Symptoms of Pilon Fractures
- Severe pain in the ankle region
- Rapid swelling and bruising
- Inability to put weight on the injured foot
- Ankle appears disjointed or “out of place”
Most pilon fractures are treated with surgical operations, but there are cases where non-surgical treatment is effective. If the doctor decides that your ankle does not need surgery, your ankle will put into a splint. After swelling resides, the doctor will replace the splint with a short leg cast.
Non-surgical pilon fractures are usually placed in a cast for six weeks. After six weeks, your doctor may replace the cast with a removable brace. The brace will continue to prevent your foot from bearing weight, as patients usually cannot bear weight for 12 weeks from the date of the initial injury.
As stated above, most pilon fractures need surgery to correctly address the problem. Surgery is usually postponed until the immediate swelling and bruising goes down, as their presence can lead to infections or complications during surgery.
Tennessee Foot & Ankle Doctor
Dr. Chad Ferguson is a skilled and experienced orthopaedic surgeon who focuses on treating foot and ankle conditions and injuries. With a specialty in sports injuries and conditions, Dr. Ferguson offers a full range of treatment options – from conservative methods to surgical intervention. Whether you’re dealing with ankle instability from a previous injury, a painful bunion, or something in between – Dr. Ferguson is equipped to address your issue. Contact Dr. Ferguson today to set up your appointment at one of his Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic locations.