A dislocated ankle is an injurious condition of the ankle joint that occurs when the bones are wrested from their normal, anatomical position. Most ankle dislocations occur as the result of either violent impact or sudden force being thrust upon the ankle joint. Treatment for a dislocated ankle generally involves proactive self-care following an examination by a qualified health care provider. Severe dislocations can necessitate surgery. It is important to note that those who sustain a dislocated ankle are usually considered to be at an increased risk for subsequent dislocations and future joint issues.
Individuals who participate in contact sports are usually considered to be at an increased risk for sustaining trauma to their ankle joint. Any physical activity that increases one’s chance for falling or colliding with another person or inanimate object can result in a twisted or dislocated ankle. In some cases, if the ankle joint withstands a direct, traumatic blow, such as may occur in a car accident, the joint's bones may be easily dislocated.
Since a dislocation can resemble a fracture with its symptom presentation, diagnostic imaging tests may be performed to confirm a dislocation, and not a break, has occurred. An X-ray will usually detect where the dislocation has occurred and its severity. Usually, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is utilized to evaluate whether any of the surrounding tissues have sustained damage and, if so, to what extent. Often treated as a medical emergency, prompt medical evaluation and treatment are necessary to prevent further trauma to the already compromised joint.
Those who suffer a dislocated ankle will generally experience patterned, progressive signs and symptoms. When the dislocation first occurs, the ankle joint will appear swollen and visually damaged, or disjointed. Discoloration and intense pain generally follow, compromising the individual’s mobility. As the joint continues to swell, placing any pressure or weight on the joint is severely painful. Individuals with this type of injury are often instructed to immediately apply ice and refrain from moving the affected joint.
Depending on the severity of the dislocation, a physician will generally manually reposition the bones to their anatomical position using a procedure known as reduction. Subsequent treatment for a dislocated ankle generally necessitates proactive, self-care measures. Individuals are often instructed to use an elastic bandage to support the ankle joint as it heals. Keeping the ankle elevated and applying ice periodically are also recommended. Over-the-counter (OTC) analgesic medications may be utilized to alleviate any discomfort. A severe ankle dislocation may necessitate surgery to reposition the bones and repair any nerve or soft tissue damage.