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The Lowdown on Ankle Injuries

By Paul Rothbart

All injuries are painful to some degree and they can all affect your ability to perform your daily tasks. Some are not too debilitating, for example, an injured finger usually doesn't hamper you that much. Then there are the injuries that seriously slow you down. Lower body injuries generally limit your mobility and it seems the lower they are, the more they keep you off your feet. Ankle injuries can be extremely painful and will definitely take you out of the game. Most of the time you can't even stand or put weight on the injury let alone move around. Knowing the symptoms, the treatments, and the types of ankle injuries are pieces of knowledge everyone should have.

Types of Ankle Injuries

The ankle is the joint that connects the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg with the talus bone of the foot. It's a complex joint held together by strong ligaments and tendons. Sprains are the most common type of ankle injury and they often happen playing. Most athletes, even amateurs have experienced an ankle sprain or two. When the foot lands unevenly, the body's weight can roll the ankle to one side and cause a sprain. This can happen when jumping, running or stepping on uneven ground.

Sprains are damage to ligaments but the bones in the ankle may also be fractured. Fractures can be caused the same way as sprains but usually the joint is under much greater force and stress. Fractures must be set and usually take longer to heal than sprains. A sprain can be treated at home, but a fracture requires medical attention.

Symptoms of Ankle Injuries

Sprains and fractures have symptoms that are very similar. They can often be mistaken for one another and for this reason, it's a good idea to see a doctor when you have an ankle injury. You may think it's a sprain but be mistaken. The first symptom is pain. It can come on suddenly and is usually severe and may be accompanied by throbbing. You usually cannot walk or put any weight on the injured and. Sometimes you will notice bruising and swelling is almost always present.

Treating Ankle Injuries

There is an excellent mnemonic for remembering the steps in treating an ankle injury. Just think of R.I.C.E.

  • R - Rest. Stay off your feet to let the injury heal.

  • I - Ice. Apply ice as soon as possible, definitely within 48 hours of experiencing the injury. It will reduce the swelling and may even numb the pain. Never leave the ice on for more than 15-20 minutes at a time and wait 45 minutes between applications.

  • C - Compression. Using an ace bandage, wrap the ankle tightly but not so much as to cut off circulation. This will support the ankle and immobilize it.

  • E - Elevate. Sit or lie with your ankle elevated to the level of your heart or higher. This will also help reduce swelling and diminish pain.

See a doctor especially if you are not sure if you have a sprain or fracture. Be careful not to put weight on the joint until a physician looks at it and makes a diagnosis.

Ankle injuries are common and painful. It's important to recognize the symptoms, know how to treat them, and get medical help.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Amarillo, Tex.

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