Though it is usually considered a single joint, to be accurate, the ankle consists of two joints - the true ankle joint and the tibia. Designed to provide stability and support over an average of 5,000 steps a day, your ankles are crucial body-weight-bearing structures that maintain balance and solidity. Due to the high daily usage of this part of the leg, ankle injuries are quite common and can range anywhere from minor to severe (and short-term to long-term). At Summit Orthopaedics, we offer all kinds of treatment to suit your ankle queries and needs.
Common Ankle Injuries and Conditions
Ankles are made up of more than just bone, however. There are four major ligaments that run through this part of the body and another three tendons, and as such, there are a fair number of conditions and injuries that can cause pain and discomfort.
They include, but are not limited to, these conditions.
- Osteoarthritis: This form of arthritis is caused by trauma formed after an ankle injury has healed. Typically a form of degenerative arthritis, symptoms of osteoarthritis in ankles include pain shortly after use, swelling, and a squeaking sound when moving, also known as crepitation.
- Ankle Sprains or Strains: Accounting for around 85% of all ankle injuries, these usually occur during sports or daily use. Severe sprains in ankles can display similar symptoms to a break.
- Ankle Impingement: When tissue around the ankle is pinched or nipped after the joint has been fully bent up and down, you may feel tenderness or weakness in your ankle. Ankle impingement is typical in football players and ballet dancers.
- Peroneal Tendon Issues: Two peroneal tendons are behind the outer ankle bone. They stabilize the ankle joint together as the foot moves inwards and outwards. When repetitive actions lead to wear and tear, people usually find pain in the outer part of the ankle behind the lateral malleolus.
- Shin Splints: Though pain from a shin splint occurs in the lower part of the leg, the root of the problem is commonly a tightness of the ankle joint. This is an overuse injury sometimes caused by the muscles in the shin overworking to combat deficiencies in the ankle.
- Ankle Syndesmosis: Sometimes called a high ankle sprain, with the injury occurring in the ligaments above the joint, this one is a little rarer. Ankle syndesmosis takes around twice as long to recover compared to a traditional ankle sprain and is characterized by sharp pain when twisting the ankle joint.
As you can see, a lot can go wrong with the ankle joint and the ligaments and tendons surrounding it. If you suspect you have any of the injuries above, contact our team to find suitable recovery steps.
As mentioned previously, sprains and breaks in ankles can feel similar in certain circumstances. Both injuries come with a tenderness of the area surrounding the ankle, bruising, and swelling.
However, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the two.
When broken ankles are left, they can sometimes heal out of place and cause long-term pain and malfunction. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Was there any noise when the injury happened?
- Has the resting position of the ankle skewed?
- Is there any numbness?
- Is the pain getting worse?
If the answer is yes to any of these, you may have broken your ankle and should seek a professional diagnosis.
When Surgery is Necessary
Whether or not surgery is deemed necessary will depend on your particular injury, its impact on your daily life, and its potential for natural healing.
For severe fractures, surgery is deemed necessary if the ankle begins to heal when the bone is out of place. In the case of chronic injuries, surgery may be required to remove pain and prevent further lasting bone, tendon, or ligament damage.
Preparation for Ankle Surgery
When it is deemed that surgery is required, there are a few steps our team will guide you through before the operation. Though it varies with the type of procedure, some standard practices include:
Medical Testing – This may include blood work, X-rays, EKGs, and an analysis of previous health history to ensure you are fit for the surgery table.
Checking Medication – Certain medications can prove to be a hindrance to operations. Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and OTC supplements can affect the way blood flows in the body. It is a procedure to stop these prior to surgery.
If you have surgery booked in the future and are a little apprehensive or are unsure if you have prepared correctly, contact our team for peace of mind and security. When it comes to something this serious, no question is a silly one.
Physical therapy and assistive devices come standard with surgery. The amount of time you are in physical therapy or on crutches depends on the severity of the injury and how your body adjusts post-operation. In order to keep recovery time to a minimum, it is essential that you follow each instruction carefully.
Other Treatment Options
When ankles face severe fractures, deformities, and overall weakness, surgery is sometimes the only solution.
However, we do offer alternative treatments if this is not the case. From steroid injections and pain medication (when the source of the pain is unclear) to physical therapy in the case of minor injuries, if you are experiencing ankle pain, don’t worry; it may not require surgery.
Expert Care When You Need It Most
We know that ankle pain is hard to live with. The ankle is an integral joint in our daily lives. It is a part of the body that holds up a massive percentage of our entire body weight in order to keep us on the move.
Though the pain may be incredibly uncomfortable, treatment is available. Feel free to look through our patient education articles below or give us a call if you’re experiencing ankle issues.