I have injured my ankle. How common is this injury?
Ankle injuries are one of the most common reasons for emergency room and doctors' office visits. In fact, no fewer than 20% of all time-loss injuries in organized sports are ankle injuries. Ankle sprains and fractures may be difficult to distinguish since they share many of the same symptoms such as tenderness around the ankle ligaments and ankle bones. Localized swelling, discoloration and blister formation may be seen with more severe injuries. At the time of injury, you may have heard or felt a 'pop' followed by a wave of pain and nausea. This may indicate a vital ligament or bone has been injured. To avoid further damage, it is imperative that motion of the ankle should not be tested if a serious injury is suspected. Unfortunately, many ankle injuries are misdiagnosed and can lead to chronic problems including permanent disability.
How can I treat my ankle after an injury?
We initially treat ankle injuries with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation for a minimum of 24 to 72 hours. For more serious injuries, X-rays are critical to evaluate the integrity of the ankle. Significant swelling or deformity, accompanied by discoloration or numbness to the foot, may indicate a compromise to the nerves and circulation. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Merely putting an Ace wrap on a serious ankle injury is not sufficient. An under treated ankle injury may lead to years of pain and loss of function of the ankle joint.
The treatment of serious ankle injuries may require splints, casts or surgical intervention. The type of treatment varies based on the severity of the ankle injury. If surgical correction is inevitable, you want to make sure that you are evaluated by a specialist that mainly treats ankle injuries. An improperly treated ankle may lead to chronic pain and debilitation. After the initial treatment and stabilization of the ankle injury, orthotic devices are often used to help maintain the corrected or stabilized position, and to prevent re-injury.
What if I need surgery? How long will it take to get back to an active lifestyle?
Serious ankle injuries may require surgical intervention. If an ankle is fractured or dis- placed, precise realignment is critical to avoid future problems such as arthritis of the ankle joint. Studies have shown that when the heel strikes the ground, five times the body weight is placed across the ankle joint. This pressure can be devastating to a poorly aligned ankle joint. A mere 1 mm displacement of the ankle bone reduces the ankle weight bearing surface by 42%. A slight misalignment can lead to severe arthritis and destruction of the ankle joint. The primary goal in the surgical treatment of a fractured or displaced ankle is realigning the joint surfaces and maintaining the length of the leg. We use the latest techniques in ankle surgery to get you back to your active lifestyle as quickly as possible. In fact, many times our patients are out of their cast and in physical therapy in as little as three weeks after surgical repair of their fractured ankle. This allows patients to resume their activities quickly and heal with fewer complications. Ankle arthroscopy is an innovative technique to evaluate and treat ankle injuries. It offers fewer complications and minimal soft tissue disruption while restoring function and stability to the ankle joint. Laser ankle athroscopy is now used to resurface joint irregularities, remove binding scar tissue, and remove painful bone spurs. This is an excellent treatment option available for either acute or chronic ankle conditions. When serious ligament injuries mandate an open repair, versus an arthroscopic one, the Brostrom-Gould procedure has been used to repair and stabilize acute or chronic ankle sprains. The procedure was designed to preserve the body's natural anatomy, while repairing the ligaments. The advantage over traditional stabilizations is rapid healing with minimal, if any reduction, in the range of motion.