Key Points About Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle (Closed Reduction)

  • Medical realignment of the foot or ankle, also known as a closed reduction, is a procedure where your bones are manually put back into their proper positions after a break or dislocation.
  • A medical realignment can be performed if you have a closed break the bone does not puncture through the skin. If any of your bones have broken through the skin, you will need surgical realignment of the bones.
  • Risks associated with a medical realignment of the foot or ankle include nerve, blood or soft tissue damage, blood clots, allergic reaction to anesthesia, or fracture to another bone.
  • During a medical realignment of the foot or ankle, your doctor will set your broken bones back into place by hand. 

A medical realignment of the fractured or dislocated foot or ankle is the process of manually moving bones into the correct location. This process will allow the bones to grow back together.

The foot and ankle contain approximately 30 small bones, which can be damaged during a traumatic accident or injury.

Candidates for a Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle

If any of the 30 bones in the foot or ankle break or dislocate, but do not break through the skin, you may need a medical realignment. The bones most likely to need a medical realignment of the foot or ankle are the tibia, talus, fibula, tarsals, cuboid, or metatarsals.

Risks Associated with a Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle

Complications associated with a medical realignment of the foot and ankle include:

  • Damage to the nerves, blood vessels, or other soft tissues.
  • A blood clot that could travel to your lungs or other body parts.
  • Allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
  • Additional fracture to another bone.
  • Surgery if the realignment is not sufficient.

You are at higher risk of suffering a complication if you smoke, take steroids or hormones, are older or have other health conditions such as diabetes.

Preparing for a Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle

Before treatment, your doctor will take an X-ray to determine the severity of your injury. If the skin is not broken (closed break), your doctor is able to realign your bones manually.

What to Expect During Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle

A medical realignment of a broken bone in the foot or ankle is done under local, regional anesthesia or general anesthesia. If you are put under general anesthesia, you will be asleep during the procedure.  

During a medical realignment of the foot or ankle, your doctor will make an incision over the broken bone. Once in position, he or she will realign the bones using pins or screws and repair any damaged tendons or ligaments at the same time. 

Once the procedure is complete, your surgeon will remove any bone fragments or other debris and clean the wound. Finally, your surgeon will stitch the incision together. 

Duration of Medical Realignment of the Foot and Ankle Recovery

If there are no complications, you can go home after the procedure.

Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may need a brace, walking boot, or cast. More severe cases will require a cast that extends up to below the knee. Typically, you will wear the cast for four to eight weeks.

As you recover, you will need to avoid strenuous physical activity that puts pressure on the foot or ankle until your doctor gives you approval. At a specified time during the recovery process, you will start physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility in the foot or ankle.

Your doctor will request a follow-up visit between five days and two weeks after the medical realignment.

Healing can take between eight and 12 weeks. The exact time will depend on how old you are, the size of the broken bone, the type of break you sustained, and your overall health.