The ankles are subjected to considerable strain throughout the day as a result of normal activities like walking and standing, and they can also be subjected to forces from twisting and turning. Many sports activities can cause ankle injuries, especially those that require jumping, running and pivoting or quick changes of direction. Injuries can range from simple and complex fractures to joint damage and soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains. Injuries can also be more common among older men and women, including those with arthritis, osteoporosis or diabetes, and among those who place considerable repetitive strain on the ankles, such as those who spend long periods of time standing each day.
A sprain is an injury that occurs when a ligament becomes stretched or torn. Ligaments are strong fibrous bands that connect one bone to another in a joint. Sprains are often accompanied by a “popping” noise or sensation caused when the ligament stretches and snaps or tears. They often occur as a result of falls or from twisting injuries.
Sports medicine is focused on the unique needs of athletes of all levels and on the treatment of injuries that occur during athletic activities. Podiatrists who specialize in sports medicine understand the unique stresses and strains imposed by specific sports, and they’re skilled in diagnosing and treating these injuries, as well as in methods used to prevent injuries from occurring. In ankle injuries, sports medicine focuses not only on treating the existing injury, but on helping the athlete learn how to train properly and improve performance techniques so future injuries can be prevented.
While some ankle injuries can be treated with splinting, casting or physical therapy, more serious injuries may require surgery to correct. Often, these surgeries can be completed using a minimally-invasive approach called arthroscopy, which uses special instruments designed to be used through small incisions. A tiny camera transmits images from inside the joint to a special monitor for viewing.