Ankle injuries are very common injuries. How do you know if you have one and how do you take care of it? What is your prognosis?
Ankle injuries are the result of some form of trauma. The ankle joint is formed by 3 bones, the tibia (the medial part of the ankle), the fibula (the lateral/outer part of the ankle), and the talus (the foot part). The tibia, fibula, or both can be broken/fractured. Ankle injuries can involve ligament injuries (sprain), most likely of the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the ligament connecting the fibula and the talus, is injured. In a high ankle sprain the anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament (AITFL) is injured.
Ankle Injury, Now What?
If you have an ankle injury, it is important to know if it is a sprain or a fracture. Sprains involve ligaments only. Fractures involve broken bones.
Grade 1: stretching of the ligament
Grade 2: Partial tear of ligament.
Grade 3: Complete tear of ligament, often unstable.
Symptoms of Ankle Injuries
Pain is the predominant symptom of an ankle injury. In a mild ankle sprain, pain with movement and sometimes at rest is most common. In more severe injuries you may have swelling, bruising and may be unable to put any weight on the injured leg. In a high ankle sprain the ligament between the tibia and fibula is injured, and this indicates a more severe injury with longer healing time.
Diagnosis of Ankle Injuries
If you have an ankle injury it is important to see an orthopedic surgeon, especially if you have a lot of swelling and are unable to move the ankle in a normal fashion. After getting a full history with all the details of the injury, and a full examination, x-rays are often done to evaluate for broken bones.
Treatment of Ankle Injuries:
Ankle sprain and high ankle sprain: the acronym is “RICE”
Rest the area.
Ice the joint to reduce swelling.
Compress the injured area to reduce swelling.
Elevate the injured extremity.
If your injury is more severe and symptoms do not resolve in a few days, you may need to be placed in a splint or a walking boot to ensure proper healing.
Mild ankle sprains may heal in a few days.
More severe ankle sprains may take several weeks and a high ankle sprain may take 4-6 weeks to heal.
Ankle fractures need to be placed in a splint, cast or a boot. You may need crutches if your injury is severe. Most ankle fractures do not need surgical intervention. They heal with time and with proper care, but your orthopedic surgeon will be able to determine such. If both bones of the ankle joint are broken it is possible that surgery is needed.
Aftermath of an Ankle Injury:
After the sprain or fracture has healed, it is important to engage in physical therapy to strengthen the ligaments and muscles around the ankle to prevent future injuries.
To make an appointment to discuss your ankle injury, please call 718-283-7400:
Dr. Natalya Urovish, Non-Operative Sports Medicine
Dr. John Munyak, Non-Operative Sports Medicine
Dr. Orry Erez, Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Joint Reconstruction Surgeon