Painful Ankle Could Mean Damaged Ligaments
Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones, joints, and even organs. Ligaments also help with range of motion (ROM) while keeping joints and bones in place. These strong bands are also prone to sprains, strains, and tears. With over 2 million injuries yearly, the ankle is one particular joint where ligament injuries are common. Ankle injuries could mean damaged ligaments, but only a podiatrist can determine with ligament repair is necessary.
Understanding your ankle pain
An overextension, twist, or blow can cause the strong ligaments in the ankle to stretch or tear. These injuries are common in sports, falls at home or in the workplace. In some cases, wear and tear can degrade the ligaments, causing ankle pain. Most injuries happen to the lateral ligament on the outer ankle. Common symptoms include bruising, recurring pain, swelling, or difficulty moving. Anyone with prolonged ankle pain should visit a podiatrist or a specialist in foot issues.
Grading your ankle pain
After an evaluation, the podiatrist will grade the injury from 1 to 3. The grade often determines the type of treatment, including surgery. For instance, grade 1 is an overstretching of the ligament, causing temporary pain and swelling. Grade 2 and 3 are much more severe and often need ligament repair. These are partial or full tears of the ligament, which can cause long-term pain and instability.
Do you need surgery?
A good way to remember how to treat a sprain is the acronymn RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. Depending on the degree of the sprain, the RICE method can help with recovery. Along with pain medication and stabilizing the knee, this method heals grade 1 and some grade 2 tears. A combination of stabilization, physical therapy, and steroid medication can help for more advanced tears. Recovery can take several weeks or even months. When these methods fail, or if there is continued instability, ligament repair can help.
Repairing your ankle
The podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon can repair the ligament using minimally invasive means. The surgeon uses an arthroscope through a small incision. The arthroscope allows the surgeon to view and correct the ligament. Ligament repairs involve removing tissue and bone fragments while stitching the damaged ligament. The surgeon may replace the ligament with a donor graft for complete tears. Surgery is followed by physical therapy, which can last several months. However, ankle ligament repair has fantastic outcomes.
Ankle pain can make moving around difficult, impacting work, sports, and social life. Often, a damaged ligament is the culprit. Ligaments respond well to conservative treatment, but surgery is sometimes necessary. Place any signs of injury in the hands of a podiatrist. This expert can assess and treat ankle pain once and for all.