The human ankle is a complex part of the body made up of three distinct joints. It’s important for this joint to stay as strong and healthy as possible because it must support the weight of the entire body. When the ankle bone is as strong as possible, it maximizes stability, mobility, and adaptability throughout the body. The ankle and foot allow us to stand, walk, run, jump and perform other necessary functions. The way the ankle is designed means that it can withstand the weight of the body and allows it to adapt and react quickly to changes in walking surface and environment.
The ankle ligaments
Our ankle and the subtalar joint (a compound joint found just below the ankle joint) are connected with ligaments, short, flexible tissues that connect bones or cartilage. The ankle and foot bones are held together with three main ligaments: the anterior and posterior talofibular ligaments as well as the calcaneofibular ligament. These ligaments are stronger than the ones found on the outside of the ankle. As they work together, the ankle’s ligaments help the ankle remain stable through the wide variety of activities people engage in daily.
Damage to the ankle ligament
There are many different ways for the ankle ligaments to become injured. These are often traumatic injuries that result from a direct impact to the ankle or even a misstep. The ligaments can also become overstretched or even tear. A specialist must determine the severity of an injury, so be sure to consult a doctor if you sustain a significant ankle injury. There are several grades of ankle ligament damage, ranging from minor to severe. Treatment for these injuries may be as simple as rest or as complex as surgery.
Treatment for ankle ligament damage
A doctor can design a treatment plan for you to give you the best odds of complete healing. However, while you are waiting for your appointment, there are some things you can do to avoid exacerbating the injury. Try using RICE – rest, immobilization, ice (for the first two days; avoid applying ice directly to the skin), and elevation (to minimize swelling). Ice will also help with pain. If you need more pain relief, you may opt to use over-the-counter pain medications.
When to see your doctor
It’s always wise to seek attention from a specialist following an ankle injury. Your specialist will provide a physical exam and, if necessary, x-rays or an MRI. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers or, possibly, a brace to assist with immobilization. In the worst cases, surgery may be indicated. Most patients with ankle ligament injuries can expect positive outcomes. The amount of time it will take to recover depends on the severity of the injury and what treatments are required. Contact Redefine Healthcare if you have injured your ankle or are experiencing ankle or foot pain. We’ll be happy to schedule an assessment for you and work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to have you feeling better as soon as possible.