Rejuvenate Your Body - Orthopaedic Specialists
The ankle joint supports our entire body when we run, walk or stand.It absorbs four times the body weight with each step--that is more than double of what the hip and knee absorb.However, it is
unique in that it has the smallest surface area of all the major weight bearing joints.Because of its small size and large load, it is prone to injury and arthritic changes.
Each year, approximately 2 million patients are treated for ankle sprains and strains. Ankle fractures are also one of the most common injuries treated by orthopedists and podiatrists.The ankle is
the most commonly injured joint in the body. The entire weight of the body is supported by the ankle which makes it very susceptible to injury. You may feel ankle pain on the inside or outside of
your ankle or along the Achilles tendon, which connects the muscles in your lower leg to your heel bone. Severe ankle pain should be evaluated by your doctor, specifically if it follows any type of
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Services, approximately 40 percent of those who suffer an ankle sprain will experience chronic ankle pain, even after being treated for their initial
injury.You should see an orthopedic surgeon when any ankle pain doesn't improve in a few weeks.
Common causes of ankle pain
Foot and ankle injuries are common in both the athlete and the non-athlete. The ankle sprain is probably the most commonly seen and most commonly encountered in both a general practice and an
orthopedic office.Pain will be experienced with any movement of the ankle joint or activity that requires weight to be placed on the ankle.There are several different types of ankle sprains.
Inversion ankle sprain (commonly called a rolled ankle) is one that causes injury to the ligaments on the outside portion of the ankle. These ligaments can commonly be stretched (grade 1), partially
torn (grade 2), or severely torn (grade 3). Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain will determine how capable the patient is of walking and how much swelling or discomfort they have. Eversion
ankle sprains occur when the foot rolls outward instead of inward. These ankle sprains are less common but cause injury to the ligaments on the medial aspect of the ankle. This type of sprain tends
to be more problematic. High ankle sprains occur when the ankle is externally rotated and typically causes pain, discomfort and ligamentous injury to the bones that hold the two ankle bones (tibia
and fibula) together.
All of these types of ankle sprains can vary in severity and some can be treated with observation but the more severe injuries may eventually require some sort of surgical management either acutely
or down the road if problems should arise.Click here to learn more about ankle sprains and treatments.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury, meaning that repetitive use of this tendon results in little tears of the tissue that may overtime worsen and become more susceptible to rupture. Over time,
swelling and pain result. Discomfort from Achilles tendinitis is experienced in the back of the ankle.Achilles tendonitis is a common overuse injury that tends to occur in middle-age recreational
athletes. Some causes of tendonitis are:
Increase in activity (either distance, speed or hills).Less recovery time between activities.Weak calf muscles.Decreased range of motion at the ankle joint, usually cause by tight calf
muscles.Running up hills - the Achilles tendon has to stretch more than normal on every stride.Overpronation or feet which roll in when running can place an increased strain on the Achilles
tendon.Wearing high heels constantly shortens the tendon and calf muscles. When exercising in flat running shoes, the tendon is stretched beyond its normal range which places an 'abnormal' strain on
A fracture is a partial or complete break in a bone.In the ankle, fractures can range from the less serious avulsion injuries (small pieces of bone that have been pulled off) to severe shattering
type breaks of the tibia, fibula or both.
Ankle fractures are common injuries that are most often caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward.Many people mistake an ankle fracture for an ankle sprain, but they are quite different and
therefore require an accurate and early diagnosis.Both can occur simultaneously.
A stress fracture is another type overuse injury that can result in pain in the ankle. A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone that occurs when the bone is repeatedly subjected to forces that
individually would not be expected to cause a fracture. They can occur when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the stress to the
bone causing a tiny crack. This crack is called a stress fracture. With this disorder, pain occurs when direct pressure is placed on the affected bone or with activity that puts additional stress
loading to the injured site (such as jumping).
Click here to learn more about ankle fractures and treatment options.
In addition to ankle sprains and other injuries, ankle pain can also be caused by arthritis.Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the ankle joint.
Osteoarthritis:A degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is one of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis. The disease causes cartilage breakdown found in joints. This breakdown removes the
buffer between bones and the resulting bone against bone friction causes pain and eventual loss of movement.
Symptoms include joint pain or aching (often after exercise or extended periods of pressure on weight-bearing joints) and limited or eventual loss of range of motion.
Rheumatoid:In some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes chemicals to be released that thicken the synovium and damage the
cartilage and bone of the affected joint. This leads to inflammation of the synovium causing pain and swelling.
Click here to learn more about ankle arthritis and treatment options.
You should seek immediately medical help if you see an exposed bone or tendon, have severe pain and swelling or are unable to walk or put any weight on your foot.
Centers of ExcellenceFoot and Ankle Center