The ankles and the feet bear the entire weight of the body as a person walks or runs. Almost every activity a person forms that involves their legs also involves the ankles and the feet. Ankle pain can signify overuse, a chronic condition such as arthritis, or an injury. It's important to know the different types of injuries as well as the symptoms caused by each one. It's also important to know what to do to prevent injuries and relieve ankle pain.
With the right type of care and support, ankle injuries can heal rather quickly allowing the patient to return to their day to day activities. If not properly cared for, the injury may not completely heal leaving it weak and open to the possibility of additional injuries in the future.
Types of Injuries
Fractures, sprains, and strains cover almost every type of injury that can affect the ankle joint. The part of the ankle that's injured will determine what type of injury a person has.
Fractures involve one or more broken bones. Sprains occur when the connective tissues and ligaments are damaged. When the muscles and tendons have been damaged or torn, the injury is referred to as a strain.
Chronic health conditions can also affect the ankle joint, and in some case, make it more susceptible to an injury. Bursitis, osteoporosis, and arthritis are three health conditions that weaken the structures of the ankle causing it to not function as it should.
Tendonitis and plantar fasciitis can also lead to injuries of the ankle. These types of injuries also include the foot and can make walking almost impossible without some type of support or assistance.
Signs and Symptoms
Mild ankle pain and inflammation can be signs of a chronic illness. Injuries, on the other hand, are characterized by much stronger pain and more pronounced inflammation. The swelling may radiate away from the ankle, causing the foot or the lower part of the leg to swell considerably. Bruising is also common with most ankle injuries.
Because the ankle acts as a pivot point, the structures within the joint itself may not be able to function at all after an injury. This can lead to an inability to bear weight on the injury. In most cases, even with a severe sprain or strain, the patient can at least walk or limp.
When any type of injury occurs, it's important to not apply any pressure to the joint until the doctor has had a chance to evaluate the injury. This will prevent further damage from occurring. If an ankle has sustained previous injuries, certain symptoms may recur if the joint is overused or a person puts too much strain on it.
Treating Ankle Injuries
Doctors have several treatment options they can use to effectively treat injuries and control ankle pain. There are also things that can be done at home to reduce the pain and inflammation of an injury until the patient can get to the doctor's office.
One of the first and most respected home treatment options is R.I.C.E. which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevate. Rest the leg immediately and place ice on the injury. Apply compression by wrapping the ice around the ankle and elevate the foot so that it rests above the level of the heart.
Other treatment options include bracing the joint with an athletic wrap, an air cast, a walking boot, or a plaster cast. If the damage is severe, surgery may be needed to stabilize the joint and repair damage to connective tissues that may not heal on its own.
Podiatrists who deal with foot and ankle injuries on a regular basis will evaluate the patient's injury or the condition of their joint and determine what types of treatment are best suited for their needs.
In addition to wrapping or bracing the joint, the doctor may also recommend physical or rehabilitation therapy to help strengthen the joint and improve its ability to function.
Stretching the injured area, lifting light weights, or applying resistance can help the joint rebuild its strength and vitality allowing it to be more flexible with a greater range of motion than before. Even extensive ankle injuries can be properly healed if the right steps are taken.
How to Prevent Ankle Injuries
Once an ankle has been injured, it can be extremely easy to re-injure it with much less force or stress. The fastest way to prevent any type of injury is to take necessary precautions.
Wearing the right type of shoes for the specific type of sport is essential. It's also important that the ankles be strong and flexible enough to be able to perform according to the physical demands of the activity in question.
Exercising the legs, ankles, and feet will strengthen not only the muscles, but also the tendons, ligaments, and bones as well. If an injury has already occurred, it's wise to use a brace or other type of support to ensure the ankle is fully stabilized and capable of functioning effectively without overstressing the joint or soft tissues.
The New Hampshire podiatrists at Nagy Footcare understand the type of force and movements the ankle and foot must perform on a regular basis. Because of their exceptional knowledge of the mechanics of the feet, ankle, and lower leg, they're able to effectively diagnose and treat all types of injuries that are known to affect those areas. They also have the diagnostic tools and the capability to repair almost any type of damage that can be caused to the joint.
In addition to their medical techniques, they also realize the importance of retraining the joint to function efficiently. This can mean stretching exercises that are performed at home or physical therapy exercises that are performed under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional who specializes in the use of rehabilitation. Allowing the joint to heal and regain its strength gradually works to stabilize the joint, preventing any type of re-injury in the future.
Visit Nagy Footcare if you're experiencing any type of ankle pain. They'll be able to answer your questions and create a treatment plan that puts you back on the path to optimum foot and ankle health. At Nagy Footcare, our best day is the day you wake up with no foot or ankle pain.