A hiker stumbles over a rock on the path. A mom trips over a toy car in the family room. A twenty-something is out on the town in heels that are a tad too high. A boy jumps off the jungle gym on the playground at recess and lands awkwardly. You trip over a raised part of the sidewalk and your friend jokes, “Have a nice trip? See you next fall!” (You laugh but actually your ankle really hurts now!). It doesn’t matter how young or old or how coordinated or clumsy you are. Because we’re human we’re all at risk for ankle injuries.
Types of Ankle Injuries
The ankle is the location where three bones meet: the tibia and fibula of your lower leg and the talus of your foot. The ankle holds these bones together at the joint by ligaments, which allows for normal ankle motion. Tendons attach muscles to the bones, help keep the joints stable, and make the ankle and foot move together. An injury to any of these parts results in a:
- Sprain – damage that is done to ligaments when they are stretched beyond their normal range of motion.
- Strain – damage to muscles or tendons as a result of being pulled or stretched too far.
- Fracture – a break or crack in one or more of the bones.
Causes of Ankle Injuries
When your ankle joint twists too far out of its normal position, you get an injury. This most often occurs just doing normal activities that are a part of your daily life, similar to those mentioned above. Sports activities, walking/running on an uneven surface, and faulty footwear can all contribute to ankle injuries as a result of:
- Jumping and landing awkwardly
- Rolling or twisting the ankle
- Sudden impact
- Anything that puts the ankle in an unnatural position
Sometimes, we even trip and wonder where that piece of furniture came from (that’s been in your house for 10 years) in order to feel less humiliated for simply being a klutz!
What to do about ankle injuries
When you experience one of the common ankle injuries mentioned above – and no doubt you will at some point – there are some basic things you can do on your own to help manage the pain:
- Rest – keeping your weight off the ankle will prevent further damage and allow it to heal.
- Ice – applying an ice pack will help to slow or reduce swelling.
- Compression – Wrapping your ankle with a simple compression wrap or bandage will help keep it stable and immobile. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly!
- Elevate – This will also help reduce swelling and pain.
Err on the side of caution. If your ankle is starting to feel better, give it one more day to continue to heal before doing any physical activity and putting weight on it.
If your injury isn’t healing and you continue to experience chronic ankle pain, you should be evaluated by a podiatrist. If you’re in the New York area, contact a podiatrist at Adler Footcare. We believe feet (and ankles!) shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.