Broken ankle

Get medical advice as soon as possible if you think you've broken your ankle. It may need treatment to heal properly.

Do not worry if you're not sure if your ankle is broken. Get it checked by a doctor.

Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 if:

You've injured your ankle and:

  • it's very painful, or the pain is getting worse
  • there's a large amount of swelling or bruising, or the swelling or bruising is getting worse
  • it hurts to put weight on it
  • it feels very stiff or is difficult to move
  • you also have a very high temperature or feel hot and shivery – this could be an infection

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Go to A&E if:

You've had an injury and:

  • your ankle is at an odd angle
  • a bone is sticking out of your ankle
  • you have a bad cut or wound on your ankle
  • you're in severe pain
  • your toes look blue or white, or feel numb
What we mean by severe pain
Severe pain:
  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
Moderate pain:
  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress
Mild pain:
  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities

While you're waiting to see a doctor

If you think you've broken your ankle, there are some things you can do while you're waiting to see a doctor.

You should:

Treatments for a broken ankle

You'll usually have an X-ray to check if your ankle is broken and see how bad the break is.

If you have a very minor break, you may not need any treatment.

For a more serious break, you may need:

You'll usually have follow-up appointments to check your ankle is healing properly.

Recovering from a broken ankle

A broken ankle usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal, but it can take longer.

The doctor will tell you:

Once it's healed, use your ankle as normal. Moving it will stop it getting stiff.

You may need to see a physiotherapist. They can help you with exercises to get your foot and ankle gently moving again.

Ask your doctor when you can return to contact sports or other activities that put a lot of strain on your ankle.

Things you can do to help your recovery

It's important to follow any advice you're given by the hospital or fracture clinic.

There are some things you can do to ease pain and help your broken ankle recover.


  • rest and raise your ankle whenever possible

  • take paracetamol or the painkiller your doctor has given you to ease pain

  • gently move your toes and bend your knee while wearing the boot or cast to ease stiff muscles


  • do not get your plaster cast wet

  • do not carry heavy things

  • do not move your ankle too much

  • do not use anything to scratch under your cast

Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 or go to an urgent treatment centre if:

You're recovering from a broken ankle and:

  • the pain in your ankle gets worse
  • your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • your leg, foot or toes start to feel numb or like they're burning
  • your leg, foot or toes look swollen, or turn blue or white
  • the plaster cast or boot is rubbing, or feels too tight or too loose
  • there's a bad smell or discharge from under your cast

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Page last reviewed: 11 March 2022
Next review due: 11 March 2025