The ankle is one of the most complicated joints in the human body and hence is one of the most easily injured. Ankle problems affect a large number of people for a variety of different reasons. Some examples of ankle problems include a sprained ankle, broken ankle, plantar fasciitis and ankle instability. Ankle treatment varies depending on the condition of the patient as well as the severity of the injury.
Sprained ankles are one of the most common of all ankle problems and affect most people at some point in their life. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments in the ankle are subjected to a large amount of force or are basically twisted or torqued too far. This can happen during sport when an athlete plants a foot to pivot and twists the ankle or when a person walks on an uneven surface. The recovery time for an ankle sprain can range from a few days to several months depending on the severity of the injury.
Repeated ankle sprains are likely unless proper rehabilitation is followed after the initial sprain. This is because scar tissue can develop in the joint, which can lead to instability and an increased risk of further sprains. For this reason even a minor ankle sprain should be treated by a professional in most cases in order to avoid long-term problems.
Broken ankles are caused by similar movements and strains as a sprained ankles although this injury can also be a consequence of overuse. Over time if a bone is being subjected to an excess force small cracks can start to open, which can then develop into a serious problem. Symptoms of a broken ankle include swelling and an inability to walk on the ankle without pain. Sometimes a broken ankle will be immediately obvious — especially if it is the result of an impact injury.
Plantar fasciitis is not strictly an ankle problem but is a condition that affects the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. When this tissue becomes inflamed the foot and ankle can become painful to walk on. Plantar fasciitis is a common condition and is thought to affect around one in ten American adults at some point.
Ankle problems can be difficult to diagnose because of the complexity of the joint. For this reason a trained physiotherapist is often required to distinguish between the many similar problems that need to be treated using different techniques. Treatments such as ultrasound therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises may be required to treat ankle problems.