More than 25,000 people sprain their ankles every day, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.
Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot, often resulting in one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle to be stretched or torn. If not properly treated, ankle sprains could develop into long-term problems.
Treatment includes resting the ankle and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compressive bandages, ankle splints and walking casts also may be used to immobilize and support the injury. More serious ankle sprains, particularly in competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair to tighten the ligaments. In some cases the sprain is so sever that the ankle becomes fractured.
Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
Signs and symptoms include:
- Ankle instability
- Difficulty walking on uneven ground or in high heels.
- Pain, sometimes intense, on the outer side of the ankle.
- Repeated ankle sprains
While ankle sprains are the most common cause of chronic lateral ankle pain, other causes may include:
- A fracture in one of the bones that make up the ankle joint.
- Arthritis of the ankle joint.
- Inflammation of the joint lining.
- Injury to the nerves that pass through the ankle. In this case, the nerves become stretched, torn, injured by a direct blow, or pinched under pressure.
- Scar tissue in the ankle after a sprain. The scar tissue takes up space in the joint, putting pressure on the ligaments.
- Torn or inflamed tendon.
Treatments for chronic lateral ankle pain include:
- Over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling. Consult your physician before taking any medications.
- Physical therapy, including tilt-board exercises, directed at strengthening the muscles, restoring range of motion, and increasing your perception of joint position.
- Ankle braces or other supports.
- Immobilization to allow the bone to heal (in cases of fractures).
Osteochondritis Dissecans are lesions that usually cause pain and stiffness of the ankle joint and affects all age groups. Often, Osteochondritis usually follow a twisting type injury to the ankle that damages the cartilage in the ankle joint.
Osteochondritis may cause swelling and ankle pain and limited motion. When immobilization of the injury doesn't alleviate the problem, surgery is sometimes prescribed. The procedures usually involves removing the loose fragment of cartilage and bone from the ankle joint and placing small drill holes in the defect. The drill holes stimulate new blood vessels to fill the area and help form scar tissue to fill the defect.