An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones to other bones. Ligaments in the ankle help to keep the bones in position and stabilize the joint. Sprained ankles can range from tiny tears in the fibers that make up the ligament to complete tears through the tissue. Without proper treatment, a sprain can weaken the ankle, which makes it more likely to re- injure the ankle. Over time, this can result in damage to the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint such as chronic ankle pain, arthritis and ongoing instability.
Ankle sprains can occur from sudden twisting of the foot during a variety of activities including: sports activities, falling, and walking or exercising on uneven surfaces.
Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
- Immediate ankle pain
- Tenderness to the touch
- Difficulty walking
Treatment Options for a Sprained Ankle
The treatment plan for a sprained ankle is determined by the grade of the sprain. Sprains are graded based on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments. Most sprains can be treated without surgery using the PRICE protocol.
Rest, ice therapy 20 to 30 minutes, several times daily, the use of a compression or ace wrap and elevation. Other conservative therapies effective in treating ankle sprains include NSAID medication such as ibuprofen, non-weight bearing by using crutches, immobilization such as a plastic cast or air brace, home exercises and physical therapy.
Some sprains do not respond well to conservative treatment necessitating surgery. Surgical options include arthroscopy or reconstruction. Your orthopedic physician will determine the best course of treatment based on your specific injury.
An ankle fracture or broken ankle means that one or more bones in the ankle joint are broken. Three bones make up the ankle joint: the tibia (shinbone), the fibular (smaller bone of the lower leg) and the talus (a small bone that sits between the heel bone and the tibia and fibula. An fractured ankle involves the area of bone that is the bump on the inside (tibia) and outside (fibula) of the ankle.
Broken ankles result from twisting or rotating the ankle incorrectly, tripping or falling or impact during a car accident.
Symptoms of Ankle Fracture
- Immediate and severe pain
- Tender to touch
- Cannot put weight on the injured foot
- Severe ankle sprainsoften feel the same as an ankle fracture
When an ankle fracture is not displaced it may not require surgery. Nonsurgical treatment options include the use of an orthotic or a short leg cast to protect the ankle while it heals.
Unfortunately, surgical treatment is necessary if the fractured ankle is out of place (displaced). Surgical correction repositions or reduces the bones into their normal alignment and are then fixes or holds them in that alignment with stainless steel plates and screws.