The ankle is a very complex and strong joint that bears the full weight of the body and aids in performing various movements such as inversion, eversion, flexion and extension. Forces that are exerted on an ankle while performing physical activities such as jogging, sprinting and jumping can injure the anklebone and its surrounding ligaments.
The Most Common Sports-Related Ankle Injuries Include:
- Lateral Inversion Sprains – The lateral ankle is situated on the outside of the foot. Lateral inversion sprains refer to partial or complete tears in the ligaments surrounding the lateral ankle when the foot is turned inward or inside out, forcing the weight of the entire body to the outer edge of the foot. The unnatural stress imposed on the outside of the ball of the foot tears the ligaments that hold the joint in place. A lateral inversion sprain is a common injury among people who participate in sports that require sudden starting and stopping, a lot of running, or jumping.
- Ankle Fractures – Often result from physical trauma such as a direct blow to the ankle. Contact sports such as football and basketball put athletes at a higher risk of sustaining ankle fractures than noncontact sports. Rolling over on the outside of the ankle may break an ankle. In some cases, an ankle fracture may also occur due to an awkward landing. Medial Malleolus fractures and Lateral Malleolus fractures can occur together, or with fractures of the tibia.
- Achilles Injuries – Common Achilles injuries include Achilles tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinopathy. An Achilles tendon rupture is a condition in which the ligaments of the Achilles tear due to biomechanical issues such as muscle imbalance, improper foot alignment and poor footwear. Achilles tendinopathy refers to an overuse injury of the Achilles.
- Stress Fractures – A stress fracture is one of the most common injuries in sports. Stress fractures refer to tiny cracks in the anklebone. It is mainly an overuse injury. When the muscles of an athlete become fatigued, they will not absorb added shock. Rather, they transfer the overload of the stress to the bone, causing minor cracks in the joints. These fractures are caused by the repetitive application of a force such as running long distances, performing intense training sessions without rest, wearing faulty footwear, or repeatedly jumping up and down.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Clinically it may be very difficult to differentiate a severe sprain from a fracture and an X-ray is always needed to confirm the diagnosis. CT scans and MRI scanning can also be ordered by a physiotherapy expert for fracture diagnosis and assessment of intra-articular injuries.
Simple sprains can be treated with rest, ice therapy, compression and elevation. Tenderness over the ankle area associated with sprains my require sports massage. In severe sprains, the ankle is treated by immobilizing the joint using a below-knee cast or pneumatic brace for fast recovery.
Supervised range-of-motion exercises offer some benefit for recovery. Physiotherapy for common Achilles injuries includes rest, ice therapy, pain medication, and stretching and strengthening exercises. An ankle fracture will be reduced by an expert at a physiotherapy clinic to align the broken bones and allow for normal healing to take place. After reduction, one’s ankle is casted to immobilize the joint. Once the cast is removed, therapeutic modalities such as ice, heat or electrical stimulation is used to reduce the swelling around the ankle.
You don’t have to suffer anymore. Call Happy Physio today on (08) 9272 7359 and let our expert physiotherapists organize with you a program for your fast recovery.