Is it a Sprain or a Fracture? Sprains and fractures have similar symptoms, although sometimes with a sprain, the whole area hurts rather than just one point. Your podiatric physician will be able to diagnose which you have and provide appropriate treatment. Certain sprains or dislocations can be severely disabling. Without proper treatment they can lead to chronic problems.
Anyone who injures an ankle requires prompt medical treatment, whether it's the first sprain or the fifth. Rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can reduce swelling and pain until the ankle can be evaluated and treated by your podiatric physician. A sprain may not always be a sprain; the ankle could be fractured. Many athletes develop chronic ankle instability from repeated ankle sprains, causing their ankle to frequently "give way." In some cases these players may require surgery. Early recognition and treatment of this problem will help speed your recovery from ankle ligament injuries. Proper rehabilitation of an ankle sprain reduces the likelihood of developing chronic ankle instability.
Athletes of all skill levels can reduce the risk for ankle sprains by following these three tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons:
Perform warm-up stretches and exercises before playing sports.
Wear the right shoes for the sport. For example, don't wear running shoes for sports that involve a lot of side-to-side movement, such as tennis and basketball.
Wear an ankle brace if you're recovering from an injury or have repeatedly sprained your ankle.
Calcaneal fractures - The calcaneus is the bone in heel. Calcaneus fractures can be severe injuries and often lead to problems of chronic pain in the foot. Treatment of a broken heel bone depends on the severity of the fracture
Talus fracture - A talus fracture occurs when the talar bone, one of the important connections between the leg and the foot, is broken. The talus has cartilage that contrubutes to both the ankle and hidfoot joiints. A talus fracture often requires surgery, and even with surgical treatment, patients often have long term ankle problems such as arthritis.
Metatarsal stress fracture - A metatarsal stress fracture is a common cause of foot pain, especially when people suddenly increase their activities. This type of injury, notorious in soldier recruits, is also called a "march fracture."
Navicular fracture - A navicular stress fracture is an injury to the midfoot region below the ankle. Athletes who sustain a navicular stress fracture commonly complain of a vague pain in the midfoot that hurts during activity. Treatment of a navicular stress fractures is usually accomplished with a cast.
On the outside of the ankle, there are three main ligaments which help to stabilize the ankle:
In the diagram to the left, the posterior talofibular ligament is not shown. It sits behind the ankle bone and the peroneal tendons, which are seen in the diagram.
When the ankle is twisted, one or more of these ligaments may be torn. Most ankle sprains involve partial tearing of one or more ligaments. Severe ankle sprains involve partial to complete tears of two or three ligaments.
Other Common Problems
Achilles Tendonitis Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition of the tendon in the back of the ankle. Left untreated, Achilles tendonitis can lead to an increased risk of Achilles tendon rupture.
Plantar fasciitis Plantar fasciitis is a syndrome of heel pain due to inflammation of the thick ligament of the base of the foot. A tight, inflamed plantar fascia can cause pain when walking or running, and lead to the formation of a heel spur.
Overpronation Pronation is a normal movement of the foot through the gait cycle. When this motion becomes excessive, overpronation can cause a variety by altering the normal mechanics of the gait cycle. Prescription orthotics can be helpful for overpronators.