The ankles are subjected to considerable strain and weight-bearing each day, and as a result, they can be especially prone to injury, especially among athletes and older men and women. Some of the most common causes of ankle pain include:
Ankle pain is often accompanied by swelling and loss of mobility. Some injuries can also cause numbness in the toes.
Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that hold the joint together become stretched beyond their normal limits, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage that can take some time to heal. Sometimes, the ligaments tear apart. Sprains cause pain in and around the ankle, especially when trying to bend the joint or place weight on it, as well as local tenderness and swelling and instability in the joint. Sometimes, a sprain can be accompanied by a snapping or popping noise as the ligament is stretched.
Some injuries can be treated using noninvasive approaches like bracing or casting with crutches, often accompanied by physical therapy to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility while also promoting proper healing in the joint. Other injuries due to accidents or diseases like arthritis may require surgery to correct. Many surgeries can be performed using an arthroscopic technique. Arthroscopy uses very small incisions to insert a tiny camera into the joint space. The camera sends images back to a video monitor for viewing. The surgeon can assess the joint and perform many procedures using the camera to guide the procedure, eliminating the need for larger incisions that take longer to heal. If a ligament is torn, surgery will focus on repairing the ligament with sutures or replacing it with a healthy ligament or tendon removed from another area in the ankle or the foot. Prior to treatment, the ankle will be carefully assessed using diagnostic imaging, physical examination with active and passive exercises to pinpoint the source of pain, and sometimes diagnostic arthroscopy.
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