There are many small bones and connective tissues in the foot and ankle, and you may suffer an injury to the ankle without even realizing it.
But sometimes an ankle injury is quite obvious. Rolling your foot can happen when running, jumping, or even just stepping off a curb, causing a ligament to be overly stretched or partially torn. This injury is a sprained ankle, and it is one of the most common ankle injuries.
Let’s take a look at the various types of injuries to the ankle and what you can do to help avoid them.
Kinds of Ankle Injuries
There are three basic types of injuries that can affect the ankles: strains, sprains, and fractures. The ankle is a junction of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Ligaments connect a bone with a nearby bone, and a tendon attaches a muscle to a bone.
- A fracture is when a bone has cracked or broken.
- A sprain is when a connective ligament has been stretched or torn partially or fully.
- A strain is when a muscle or the connective tendon has been stretched or torn partially or fully.
Treatment of a Fracture
A broken ankle can be repaired either with or without surgery, depending upon the location and the severity of the break. If the fractured bone has remained in place, the doctor may merely put a splint or a cast over the affected bone to immobilize it until it heals.
If the ankle has shattered into multiple pieces or the bone fragments have shifted out of alignment, the physician may recommend surgery. The doctor will place internal fixation methods, including plates and screws, to secure the broken pieces so they heal back together properly.
Treatment of a Sprain
A sprain of a ligament is treated with the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area. A mild ankle sprain takes up to a week to heal completely, and it is ideally followed with stretching and strengthening exercises.
A moderate sprain is also best treated via the RICE method, but for a longer period – up to several weeks – and the doctor may recommend a splint or brace to immobilize the joint. The physician may also prescribe physical therapy to help you regain a full range of motion.
A severe sprain is typically due to a complete tear of the ligament. Treatment consists of a much longer period of RICE and physical therapy, and the doctor may recommend surgery to repair the tears.
Treatment for a Strain
An ankle rarely suffers a strain of the tendons or adjacent muscles. However, one of the most common tendon injuries in the ankle is to the Achilles tendon.
This type of injury is graded similarly to a sprain and follows the same methodology for treatment: RICE followed by physical therapy, and possibly surgical intervention if severe.
Preventing Ankle Injuries
Warming up before any kind of exercise – and cooling down afterward – is the best way to help prevent ankle sprains, strains, and fractures. It’s also important to wear proper athletic gear and wear shoes that fit.
If you are particularly prone to ankle injuries, ask the doctor about wearing a brace or taping the ankle before engaging in physical activity. Ask a doctor how best to strengthen the ankle to prevent injury.
Orthopedic Medicine in Maryland
Our skilled team at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland offer every facet of orthopedics under one roof, including an urgent care center. We can treat your injury, prescribe therapy or surgery, and offer rehabilitation – all from within the same practice.
Call us today at (410) 644-1880 to schedule an appointment, or you can request an appointment online. We offer a full range of orthopedic treatment for sprains, strains, fractures, and beyond.