The ankle is comprised of many anatomical structures that support the weight of the human body. The structure and function of the ankle is positioned in such a way that promotes flawless movement. Ligaments, muscles, and tendons work in a way to provide for lateral rotations. When a patient typically injures their ankle, a sprain /strain is usually most common. This occurs from sometimes the simplest accident of stepping in a whole or improperly stepping down onto the ankle. In more serious accidents, the medial and lateral malleoli are affected. It medial malleolus is a locale off the distal tibia; the lateral malleolus is located on the distal fibula.
After diagnostic imaging and proper proposed protocol is designated, conservative treatment is usually implemented for the less severe forms of ankle pain. Different strengthening and stretching exercises are performed to strengthen the unit as a whole. In more severe forms, surgery may be required. In cases where there is a non-union of a malleoli fracture, an Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) might be considered. With the hardware in place, the ankle will be mechanically immobilized at the fractured site to promote healing.
Surgery is not always the best option. In less developed forms of ankle pains, the following might be explored:
- Bracing / Casting
- Wearing a brace, cast (long or short leg), or splint, especially when active will alleviate some pressure on the joint.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen can relieve pain. Glucosamine supplements and calcium might be added to diet.
- Steroid Injections
- One method to alleviate pain symptoms for longer periods is steroid injections. This is not used in the case of a fractured structure. This is more often used for a diffuse chronic condition. The option of having these injections depends greatly on the patient’s overall health and any outstanding concerns, such as diabetes.
- Physical Therapy
- Exercising the muscles involved in the joint will strengthen the system as a whole, placing less stress on any specific point.
In more advanced forms of ankle pain surgical treatment might be considered. After diagnosis and proper proposed protocol, patient will be educated on the suggested procedure. After conservative treatments have failed, and the correct procedure is evaluated, surgery will then be performed followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Common procedures include:
- manipulation under anesthesia and casting
- ankle replacements
What Happens Without Treatment?
Without treatment, pain symptoms may gradually lessen overtime. However, in many cases if the injury requires surgical intervention, but is left untreated, the pain symptoms may worsen. If the structure of the anatomical part becomes affected due to the prolonged waiting to have surgery, a more advanced procedure may become necessary.
- Reduce force on ankles
- When exercising or running, it is often much easier on the lower extremity joints to do so on a soft surface (e.g. grass, rubberized track). Also, avoid direct blows to ankle.
- Practice safe form with joint movements
- When running and lifting weights, be sure to move structure within a safe degree.
- Take Supplements
- Arthritis is indiscriminate. Taking Glucosamine chondroitin has proven effective in promoting healthy joint cartilage and spacing.
- Practice safe athletic movements
- The most common injuries to the ankle are strains/sprains and malleoli fractures. This is often caused by an improper form when lifting weights, direct flows or accidents to the ankle, or stress reactions. It is recommended that athletes practice safe weight lifting regiments.