Ankle injuries are among the many issues treated at orthopedic clinics. While there are a number of problems that can affect the ankle, some are far more common than others.
Sprained ankles are extremely common. Approximately 25,000 Americans sprain their ankles every day. Sprains are also the reason most athletes take breaks from training and playing.
A sprain occurs when the ankle rolls or twists and damages the ligaments that hold the bones together. Over 80% of ankle sprains happen when the ankle rolls inwards and pulls the ligaments. Weak ankle muscles put people at higher risk for issues. Reducing swelling and pain is the first priority of the orthopedic doctor, after which care must be taken to protect the body from further occurrences.
There are three bones in the ankle, the tibia, fibula and talus. When one of these bones is broken, the person can usually still walk. However, when multiple fractures are present, the joint becomes very unstable and may require a cast.
Severe sprains and fractures may seem similar and it is essential that each and every injury in this area of the body be checked by a doctor. Swelling, bruising, and severe pain are characteristics of ankle breaks, along with deformity in some cases.
Occurring in both peroneal and Achilles tendons, tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons. Overuse or injury can put the ankle at greater risk. The condition is evident by the pain in the area, swelling and a localized fever. Rest is usually the best treatment for the area, along with alternating heat and cold packs.
4. Ligament Tears
The ligaments that exist in the ankle can also tear. This will cause pain, swelling and the foot becomes unstable. When left untreated, the torn ligaments can actually change the form of the foot and cause other problems, such as tendonosis.
This condition occurs in both the Achilles and peroneal tendons when the tendons have been stretched too often over time. It can take years for tendonosis to cause problems, but eventually the overstretched tendon begins to wear thin and tear gradually.
The symptoms for the condition include pain that occurs at random times, on the outside of the ankle, along with a feeling of instability. The ankle may be weak, as well. In some people the arches may become higher than usual. High arches put people at risk for this type of degenerative tear, as well.
Each of these conditions requires some form of immobilization. It is essential that patients seek the attention of an orthopedic doctor, as ankle injuries may be misdiagnosed by those not accustomed to dealing with them. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are also used in most cases.
Rarely, surgery is required when the tendons or ligaments are damaged beyond healing on their own. This is fairly rare and is only done if absolutely necessary. The pros and cons of such drastic measures should be carefully considered before a final decision is made.