The Mighty Ankles
Essential Management

Ankles play an extremely important role in the balance and stability of the body and lower limbs. While the feet are wonders of mechanical complexity and strength, the ankles make possible the up-and-down and side-to-side movements of the feet, and act as shock absorbers and propulsion engines for every movement we make with our feet. The ligaments surrounding the ankle joints connect the bones of the legs to each other and to those in the feet.

What is a sprain, and what should be done?

Ankle-related injuries are fairly common, with the ankle sprain – injury to the ligaments – being the most common.

The most sensible thing to do in such an instance is to see a doctor, who will establish the nature of the injury with an examination, followed by the appropriate medication and advice. Splints/braces for the ankles are also useful, and patients are also referred to the physiotherapist for ankle strengthening exercises. The physiotherapist can work with the patient to help condition and strengthen the ankles, so as to prevent future sprains.

If a more serious injury is suspected or evident, further investigation using X-rays and MRI scans is often recommended. Surgery is occasionally required for the repair of the ankle ligaments.

What is a sprain, and what should be done?

Ankle fractures – when one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken – are also fairly common these days, especially with more people taking up winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. An ankle fracture often has point tenderness over the bone that is fractured, and sometimes results in a very obvious deformity in which the broken parts of the bone physically separate and can be seen. Patients will also often remember hearing a “crack” sound.

"The ankles make possible the up-and-down and side-to-side movements of the foot, and act as shock absorbers and propulsion engines for every movement we make with our feet."

How can we tell the differences between a sprain and a fracture?

Sprain: Tenderness and swelling over the outside of the ankle at the soft spot just below the bone.

Fracture: Tenderness over the outside and inside of the ankle; there may also be deformity of the ankle.

Sprain: Patient is usually able to walk.

Fracture: Patient is unable to bear weight and walk properly on the ankle.

Keep those ankles safe as you run. Here are four simple tips.
  • Always warm up and stretch adequately before running.
  • Wear proper footwear with support for both the ankle and sole.
  • Don’t overestimate your capability and overexert yourself; know your limits.
  • Don’t rush through your postrun cool-down stretches.
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    Orthopaedic Care

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