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Health Library

Ankle Disorders

WHAT IS THE ANKLE?

it moves in only one direction. It is composed of the Talus Bone coming up from the foot, joined by the Tibia and the Fibula from the leg. When the ankle joint is forced to move in any direction other than like a hinge, ligaments are injured, bones are broken, and tendons can be damaged.


COMMON INJURIES TO THE ANKLE JOINT

The most common injuries to the ankle are sprains. The ankle has ligaments that attach from the two leg bones (the tibia and fibula) to the foot bones (the talus and the calcaneus). If the ankle is forced to move in any direction but one, those ligaments can become torn or ruptured. Ligament injuries must be treated properly, otherwise the ankle can become loose and develop arthritis.

Other ankle injuries include ankle joint fractures involving the tibia, fibula, and talus. Since bones will only heal if the fractured parts are kept still and do not move, casting and/or fixing the bones together with screws is essential.

The most challenging issue with the ankle joint is arthritis. Ankle injuries are the major cause that leads to ankle arthritis in the future.


DIAGNOSIS

To receive a diagnosis, a qualified healthcare professional in musculoskeletal disorders will first take a thorough medical history and conduct an examination of your feet and ankles. Just before this examination, you will need to have a full set of foot and ankle x-rays. Very often an MRI will be needed to assess the extent of ligament and tendon injury, before a proper treatment plan can be developed.


DIAGNOSIS

A consultation and physical exam with a qualified musculoskeletal expert is the first step. X-ray or MRI scanning may be required for a diagnosis. Once a rupture is diagnosed it should be treated to prevent loss of strength and inadequate healing.


TREATMENT

Ankle sprains are best treated with surgery or boot walker immobilization, which will help ligaments heal in order to protect your ankle from becoming weak in the future.  Fractures are often treated with surgical intervention, though fractures that are well-aligned may only need to be casted for about two months.

Ankle arthritis can sometimes be treated with custom-made ankle braces. Ankle arthroscopy can be useful to clean out an arthritic ankle. Ultimately, a patient who is disabled due to ankle joint pain is best treated by either ankle fusion or ankle replacement.

 

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