You may think that ankle injuries are exclusive to athletes, but they can, and do, happen to all kinds of people. In fact, about 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day in the US, and about a million people land in the ER every year because of ankle trauma.
At The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre, located in Woodlands, Texas, our team of experts knows more than a thing or two about ankle injuries. They treats world-class athletes and people who have never competed in sports at all, because ankle injuries don’t discriminate.
What’s in an ankle?
The two bones in your lower leg meet the talus bone in your foot to form your ankle. Holding those three players together, you have tendons that attach muscle to bone and ligaments that keep everything in place as you walk, run, stoop, and jump. The type of injury you sustain depends on which of these parts you damage.
If you take a tumble off a curb or trip while navigating uneven terrain and roll your ankle, you can easily overstretch your muscles and tendons. This is called a strain. It’s painful, and you may notice swelling and redness, but it isn’t usually serious.
If you repeatedly strain your ankle, you may tear your peroneal tendon (located just behind your ankle bone) and develop tendinitis, chronic inflammation of the tendon.
When your injury involves the ligaments in your ankle, you have a sprain. Ankle sprains are graded according to severity from minor overstretching (grade 1), to partial tears (grade 2), to complete tears (grade 3).
Ankle sprains typically happen when you:
- Roll your ankle inward and overstretch the outer ligaments
- Roll your ankle outward and overstretch the inner ligaments
- Twist your ankle and overstretch the upper ligaments nearest your tibia and fibula
Most sprains heal on their own after a few weeks, but if you don’t allow the injury to heal completely by resting it and rehabilitating it properly, re-injuries are very common and lead to chronic instability.
True to its name, an ankle fracture involves a broken bone — and maybe more than just one. If the fracture is minor, you can expect it to heal with rest in a few weeks. But if you have a severe fracture, or you’ve broken multiple bones, you’ve likely also sustained a strain, a sprain, or both, and your recovery time may last a few months.
Often, an ankle fracture and a dislocated ankle go hand-in-hand, but it’s possible to have an isolated dislocation. This happens when the bones that come together to form your ankle are forced out of alignment with one another. Sports injuries and car crashes are the most common culprits, as the force pushes the bones out of their normal positions. A dislocated ankle is extremely painful and impossible to walk on.
Treating your ankle injury
Mild sprains, strains, and fractures are all treatable and typically heal completely. The best course of action is the classic RICE approach: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This keeps the inflammation down and the pain at bay while the healing takes place.
In the case of severe ankle injuries, our team may recommend some conservative approaches such as:
- Splinting or casting
- Physical therapies
- Cortisone injections
- Viscosupplementation injections
In extreme cases, surgery such as arthroscopy may be required or ankle replacement surgery if you are showing signs of damage or deterioration beyond repair.
If you’re suffering from an ankle injury of any kind, call us at either of our Texas locations to schedule a consult with our team or request one online. Treating your injured ankle now can save you from chronic problems in the future.