Common Ankle Problems
As with any area of your body, there are numerous ankle injuries and conditions that can develop—but some are more likely than others. When we discuss common ankle issues, we are talking about ones such as:
Quite possibly the most common injury humans experience anywhere in the body, ankle sprains and strains are too frequently dismissed as being “not a big deal.” This is a big mistake—left untreated, a sprained ankle can ultimately lead to a condition of chronic ankle instability. Also, an ankle sprain can share many symptoms with an ankle fracture. We can properly diagnose your injury to ensure you receive the right treatment.
A sprain is an injury wherein a ligament is stretched beyond its intended range of motion. This injury can happen when your foot twists excessively. Sprains are commonly thought of as being sports injuries, but it really only takes a slight misstep on a stair or curb, or a high heel breaking, for this injury to occur.
There is an 80% chance of better healing of an ankle sprain if you address the problem right away. The best way to do so is with the PRICE technique. (No, this does not entail spending a lot of money!).
- Protection. Your starting point for this treatment is to protect the affected area from sustaining further injury. This means putting the old “walk it off” or “it’s merely a flesh wound” mindset to rest.
- Rest. Speaking of rest, this is the second part of the PRICE protocol. Your body has remarkable abilities to repair damaged tissue. To do so, however, you need to rest. This also will help you avoid further injury.
- Ice. Controlling inflammation is absolutely huge for optimal healing. Putting ice on the injured ankle as soon as possible is a great starting point. Keep the ice on for about 15-20 minutes. Do this multiple times during the day, but wait about an hour between icing sessions.
- Compression. Compression is another measure for reducing swelling. Use a compression wrap, but if you start to feel tingly below the wrap, loosen it a bit. A major problem with Ace wraps is that one area can be compressed/strangled more than another and block fluid form escaping.
- Elevate. Keeping your leg elevated above heart level is an approach used to prevent the area from becoming swollen with excessive fluid. Since you have to rest anyhow, prop your leg up on a couple of pillows while you relax on your couch or bed. Gravity is a tremendous force that can either work for you or against you.
Sinus Tarsitis/Sinus Tarsi Syndrome
When people hear the word “sinus,” the first thing that probably comes to mind are the sinuses in your head that are often affected by allergies and illness. Yet your body has various other sinuses in it as well. The word simply means a cavity in a body tissue or organ.
In the case of your sinus tarsi, this is an opening found on the outside of your foot, between the ankle bone (talus) and heel bone (calcaneus). Sinus tarsitis is a secondary injury to an ankle sprain (further proof those common injuries should not be overlooked!). It often develops when there is excessive and localized pressure on the outer ankle.
Posterior Tibial Tendinitis
Given the intricate nature of your foot structure, there are numerous connective tissues keeping everything together and allowing natural movement. Your posterior tibial tendons are extremely important for holding up your arches and supporting your feet when you walk.
Now, anytime you see an “-itis” at the end of a medical term, it means inflammation (swelling). So in the case of posterior tibial tendinitis, your posterior tibial tendon(s) has become inflamed. This injury can arise during an acute incident (a sudden event) or overuse. In either case, you will likely experience pain along the inside of your foot and ankle. The pain tends to worsen during physical activities. This is associated with your foot rolling in too much (pronation).
As with any bones in your body, the ones forming your ankle—the tibia, fibula, calcaneus, and tarsus—are at potential risk of fracturing when subjected to enough force. This includes cumulative forces from overuse that can cause stress fractures. There are many different kinds of fractures you can potentially sustain. Treatment is typically centered on keeping the injured area stable so your damaged bone tissue will be able to mend correctly.
A fracture that is often overlooked in an emergency room setting occurs at the base of the 5th metatarsal. If there is persistent pain and swelling in the lateral foot (not the ankle) you may be the proud owner of this problem. This is a notoriously poor area to heal in the best circumstances and a delay in treatment will require surgery.