Understanding Ankle Injuries and ankle pain treatment options
The ankle joint is affected by almost every weight bearing activity you do on a daily basis. Movements such as walking, standing, climbing stairs, running and dancing all apply pressure and stress on the ankle joint. The ankle joint is made up of the Talus and the long bones in the leg (Tibia & Fibula) which hold the Talus in place. Along with the bones, there are multiple ligaments and tendons that affect the function of the ankle joint. When your ankle joint is injured, the resulting pain often limit your ability to complete daily functions. Some of the most common causes of ankle pain include ankle sprains, ankle arthritis, tendon injuries and fracture of the ankle joint. Fortunately, ankle pain can often be easily diagnosed and treated.
Ankle Pain from Injury
Ankle sprains are the most common injury sustained during sport activities. These injuries accounts for 60% of all sport related injuries and are up to 20% of the lower extremity injuries diagnosed in the US yearly. Unfortunately, many of those sustaining an ankle sprain do not receive the appropriate treatment initially. If not evaluated by a specialist and managed appropriately, many of those patients can develop residual complications leading to chronic ankle instability. This has been shown to significantly alter function and cause decreases in activity. Chronic ankle instability is often linked with the development of ankle osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint is characterized by breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the cartilage surfaces that make up the ankle joint. Cartilage is the smooth tissue covering the end of the bones that make up the ankle joints. This soft tissue protects and cushions the bone ends during movement. When the cartilage is damaged or deteriorates, symptoms develop that can restrict the ability to easily perform daily activities such as standing and walking.
As arthritis of the ankle progresses symptoms worsen, often leading to persistent pain and swelling along with restriction of motions and loss of joint function. Ankle arthritis is often the result of conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis, chronic ankle instability and ankle fractures. Fortunately, the treatment options for patients with ankle osteoarthritis have improved significantly in the last few years. Advances in ankle joint replacement surgery have allowed surgeons to restore ankle joint motion and relieve pain with patient suffering from ankle joint arthritis.
Common Causes of Your Ankle Pain
Fracture of the ankle joint is often cited as the leading cause of osteoarthritis of the ankle. This is often referred to as post-traumatic arthritis since there is a direct correlation between the trauma to the joint caused by the fracture and the subsequent arthritis that develops.
Ankle fractures often occur in relation to motor vehicle accidents, falls from a height or a twisting injury. These fractures can range from the less serious avulsion injuries (small pieces of bone can be pulled off by a ligament) to severe breaks of the tibia, fibula or both. The extent of the fracture will depend on the height, velocity and amount of force placed on the joint when the injury occurs.
Older patients have a greater risk of ankle fracture due to loss of bone density making the weight bearing bones of the ankle joint more susceptible to sustaining a fracture. An ankle fracture should always be evaluated by a health professional well versed in foot and ankle anatomy. Most fractures of the ankle joint will require replacement surgery, but in some less severe cases, the injury can be treated with casting and immobilization.
Treating Ankle Pain
Appropriate timely evaluation and treatment is paramount for prevention of complications related to ankle injuries. Ankle pain should never be ignored in order to prevent lasting effects. We encourage patients to always seek treatment of ankle pain, as most conditions can be easily remedied thereby preventing long term complications. If additional treatment options need to be takes, our team of doctors are highly trained to address your pain, and if necessary, perform total ankle joint replacement surgery. At Certified Foot & Ankle Specialists, our physicians have the most advanced training, the latest technology and experience to help rid you of ankle pain associated with an ankle injury and arthritis.