There are several ligaments in the ankle; three on the outside area alone. These ligaments, as well as the tendons that are located around the ankle, provide the necessary stability to the ankle, foot, and lower leg. Injury to any of the structures within the ankle, or around it, could lead to severe or persistent pain.
Causes of Ankle Pain
According to statistics, the majority of complaints of ankle pain are related to a sprain of the ligaments that surround this structure. Sprain stems from overstretching the fibrous ligament, sometimes to the point tearing. A sprain may occur with a misstep that causes the foot to roll outward, damaging the lateral ligaments that support the joint. As a result of minor injury, swelling and pain may occur. Therapeutic care may also be necessary to facilitate the return to functional movement. Without proper care, it can take months for an ankle injury to heal. Furthermore, there is the potential for permanent weakness in the ankle after injury, which increases the risk for future damage.
Generally, the treatment that is recommended for a minor ankle sprain is the basic RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It is important to understand that the ankle is not a very vascular area. Due to limited circulation through the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in this area, additional therapy could be advantageous.
It is the Achilles tendon that attaches the muscles of the back of the leg to the heel. Being the longest tendon in the body, and having the responsibility of facilitating foot movement such as walking, it is very susceptible not only to injury but to natural wear and tear. Tendons are tough and fibrous, with little blood circulating through them. An injury to the Achilles tendon could be problematic if not treated with appropriate therapy soon after the damage has occurred.
When the Achilles tendon has been overstretched or otherwise harmed, inflammation occurs. This manifests as pain at the back of the ankle that may extend to the lower calf. Swelling and redness may also be noticed along with stiffness that inhibits the full range of motion.
Treating inflammation of the Achilles tendon may involve several components. There is a need to attend to comfort through reasonable pain management techniques. In our facilities, we also focus on rehabilitating the damaged ankle in order to restore functional movement. Because athletes often suffer this type of injury to the ankle, one of our intents in treatment is to restore physical wellness so sports can be safely resumed. This may require manual therapies on the joint, such as heat or electrical stimulation. Acupuncture may also be recommended to increase circulation into the area to expedite healing.
Anterior Ankle Impingement
Pain at the front of the ankle may occur when repeated stress is placed on the small bones and fragile tissues around the ankle. This is an injury that commonly affects dancers and football players of all levels due to particular movements of the feet. The force that is exerted may cause tiny boney fragments to
develop and pinch or rub against surrounding structures, causing pain and limited range of motion. In some instances, a visible bump may be observed. However, common symptoms include swelling and tenderness at the front of the ankle, and difficulty with certain actions, such as walking uphill.
Pain at the front of the ankle that is related to impingement may resolve somewhat with rest and compression. Further damage may be prevented by strengthening the structures around the ankle with physical therapy exercises. Functional sports medicine services may focus on the development and implementation of proper body mechanics that support balance and range of motion.
Advanced Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation has been established with the intent of offering injured individuals the latest in non-surgical therapies. Our sports medicine team, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors all have value to offer the individual in search of a full recovery from an ankle injury. Our modalities are complementary, each maximizing the other’s capability to reduce pain and restore optimal function.
Learn more about ankle pain and how we can help you move through your injury. Contact Us Today.