Ankle fractures and strains are very common injuries because the ankle needs to support the entire weight of the human body. Orthopedists and podiatrists treat millions of ankle injuries every year.
Most ankle injuries involve a sudden twist and possible overstretch or strain of a muscle or tendon. When the connective tissue becomes stretched or strained it is called a sprain. Avulsion fracture occurs when a piece of bone is torn away along with a connective ligament.
The majority of ankle injuries treated today are inversion injuries which means the foot will twist inward causing damage to the outside of the foot. Injuries to the medial ligaments of the inside of the foot are less common but are caused by the foot twisting outward.
Sprains can be either mild, moderate or severe and this depends on the seriousness of the ligament tear. Most physicians will order x-rays to rule out more severe damage such as dislocation or fracture. If the injury is indeed a sprain it can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation.
To reduce pain and swelling in the ankle area anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can help but should only be used as directed. Most ankle strains and sprains will heal in two to six weeks. With more severe injuries taking up to twelve weeks to heal and rehabilitation to provide renewed strength and balance may be required.
Individuals suffering from ankle issues are at risk for further injury. For this reason it is important to consider shoes that provide stability and support. Custom orthotics will help provide further stability following and help prevent further or future damage.
A sprain or strain very rarely requires surgery but in those rare cases there are surgical solutions to rid people of nagging and persistent pain. Torn ligaments however, often require surgery in order to be reattached to the bone. These type of procedures usually take up to two months to heal. Arthroscopic procedures are also available to treat chronic pain by removing damaged cartilage, bone fragments and scar tissue.
Everyone is at risk for ankle injuries whether they are an athlete or just engaging in normal activity. It is important to warm up, stretch the calves, and cool down properly when exercising to reduce the the risk of injury.