Ankle injury statistics are impressive. Over 25,000 ankle sprains occur on a daily basis. Over the course of a year, more than one million people will visit the emergency room with an ankle injury. Most of these people will have either a sprain or a fracture, and some will have a strained or torn tendon.
Ankles get little thought until they get hurt. The ankle allows the upward and downward motion of your feet so you can run and walk smoothly. They are essential for mobility and jumping. When you consider that this hinged joint has only three bones, it is amazing. When walking or standing, it supports one and a half times your weight. When you run, it supports eight times your weight. It is not surprising, then, that the ankle is one of the most frequently injured parts of the human body.
Three Most Common Injuries
Injuries to the ankle can be mild or completely debilitating. Sprains, injuries to the tendon and fractures are the most common injuries to the ankle. Flexibility of the ankle joint is one factor that determines the risk of injury. When the ankle joint is not sufficiently flexible, the opportunity for injury increases.
Millions of Americans have experienced an ankle sprain at some time in their life. When the ankle rolls inward or outward abnormally, the ligaments or tendons can become injured. Usually, the damage is minor; but a torn ligament or tendon can be quite painful. When these injuries occur repeatedly, the risk for more serious injuries increases. It is important to have your ankle checked out, if you injure it more than one time.
Tendon injuries are also very common. The Achilles tendons run from the bottom of the calf muscles down the back of the ankle into the heel bone. The posterior tibial tendon runs from the inner calf down to the inner or medial side of the ankle and connects to the arch of the foot. Injury to either of these tendons affects mobility.
You cannot flex your foot upward or downward if the Achilles tendon ruptures. Jumping can cause injury to this tendon. Over time, a fallen arch may be the result of repeated injury to the posterior tibial tendon. Injury to this tendon affects the ability of the foot to support itself, causing the arch to collapse.
Another common ankle injury is the fracture. When you injure your ankle, it is critical that you seek medical attention for proper evaluation of the injury. Unlike breaking a bone in your leg, which will leave you unable to walk, fracture of an ankle bone may not impair your mobility. You can cause permanent injury to your ankle if you continue to walk on a fractured bone.
Ankle fractures can occur as a result of falling, an accident or direct trauma to the ankle. These can also cause sprains, strains and tendon injuries. This is why you should have your ankle looked at when it is injured. Proper diagnosis and treatment can prevent more serious damage from occurring.
Ankle Injury Prevention
Technically, you cannot prevent your ankles from being hurt; however, you can lower the risk of injury. Have your ankles tested for mobility issues, especially if you sprain them repeatedly. Even minor sprains can signal a problem if they occur often enough. Your doctor can recommend exercises to strengthen the ankle and increase the flexibility. Here are a few more tips to lower your risk of ankle injury:
- When you are tired, avoid putting extra stress on your ankle. Do not play sports or exercise when you are in pain or feeling tired.
- Wear properly fitted shoes. Get new ones if the heel is worn down on one side.
- Maintain a healthy weight and eat healthy foods.
- Warm up before exercising or playing a sport.
- If you play sports, keep in condition and remember to exercise your ankles.
- Make sure the surface you run on is flat.
- Do your best to avoid falls.
Everyone should be aware of the necessity for ankle health. Strong, flexible ankles are less likely to become injured easily.
Silicon Valley Orthopaedics offers a variety of treatment options for injured feet and ankles. Contact us and schedule an appointment for proper evaluation of your injury.