Ankle injuries are some of the most common injuries in the body. Often, these injuries are sprains, or damage to the ligaments that hold the ankle joint together on either side.
Ankle sprains account for 45% of all sports injuries and 16% of all hospital emergency department visits. Although many of these injuries are relatively minor, 19-72% of patients with ankle sprains will have another sprain on the same ankle, and 70% will develop chronic ankle instability (CAI).
Because ankle injuries are often insufficiently diagnosed and treated, the incidence of later complications remains excessively high. Unfortunately, patients are told that “It’s only an ankle sprain”, and the treatment, if any, is minimal.
To understand the reasons for complications of ankle injuries, one must understand the anatomy of the ankle. The outside or lateral portion of the ankle joint is held together by 3 ligaments, while the inside or medial portion of the ankle joint itself together by 4 ligaments. The lateral ligaments are weaker than the medial ligaments, so most (85%) of ankle injuries involve the lateral side.
Ligaments have poor blood supplies, so they take a long time to heal. Some studies have found that it takes up to 6 months for an ankle ligament to regain full strength. Protection of healing ligaments with bracing during the healing phase can help to prevent reinjury and CAI.
In addition to ligament damage, ankle injuries can involve tendons and bones. Sometimes, these injuries are subtle and difficult to diagnose. Special diagnostic testing and special imaging techniques are sometimes necessary. Failure to properly diagnose and treat these injuries can lead to arthritis and other problems.
The physicians at Melbourne Podiatry Associates are experts in all injuries of the foot and ankle. If you have any ankle injury, no matter how seemingly minor, call ouroffices for an appointment.