Some common injuries of the ankle:Sprains/Strains: A sprain describes an injury to the ligamentous tissue in the ankle. Ligaments connect bone to bone and provide stability and limit excess movement. The inner side of the ankle is supported by a large ligament called the deltoid ligament. It is extremely strong and prevents the ankle from rolling inward. The outer side of the ankle is supported by three smaller ligaments, the anterior talofibular lig., the calcaneofibular lig., and the posterior talofibular lig. These ligaments are named by their attachments to the bones. These ligaments help to restrict the ankle from rolling outward. This is a much more common occurrence therefore these ligaments are more frequently injured. The degree of injury in an ankle sprain is related to the degree of tissue damage of the ligaments. Generally the more damage, the longer healing period (from a couple of days to 6 to 8 weeks). Physical therapy is important to restore normal movement, alleviate pain and swelling, and retrain the muscles to provide maximum stability for the ankle. A strain represents an injury the muscle or tendon. Frequently with an acute sprain, a muscle strain may occur as the muscle tries to support the ligaments.
Fractures: Due to the high stress levels at the ankle with weight bearing activities, this joint is at a high risk for traumatic injuries like a fracture. Fractures are possible at any of the three bones that make up the ankle, however are more common in the fibula and tibia. Fractures can range from simple to compound, and closed to open. Based on the severity, management may require a boot, or cast, surgery to relocate and fixate the bones, and a period of non-weight bearing. Physical therapy is usually prescribed after a period of healing and immobilization to restore movement and function to the injured area.
Tendonitis: This refers to inflammation of a tendon. A tendon is what connects muscle to bone and undergoes a great deal of stress during physical activity. In addition many tendons travel through tight and narrow spaces that may contribute to inflammation. Tendonitis more often than not, is an overuse injury. The muscle tendons most affected travel on the inside, and outside of the ankle behind the bony points at the bottom of the leg bones. Many factors may play a role in developing tendonitis at the ankle including compromised structure of the foot (flat feet, bunions), improper footwear, increased physical activity, and as a secondary problem to other medical conditions (swelling in legs, diabetes). Treatment of the inflammation of the tendon is only part of the physical therapy treatment, searching for the cause and working to change or alleviate the stress is extremely important as well.