Making a Diagnosis in an Ankle Injuries Part 2

In the last blogpost, the ankle was defined as the region above the foot where the tibia and talus meet. Three of the ligaments that hold the ankle together are the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament. All three of these ligaments can be palpated on the lateral side (outside) of the ankle. Sometimes a ligament will tear, and this is called an ankle sprain.

Ankle InjuriesAnkle sprains commonly occur on the lateral side of the ankle. This happens when the ankle is inverted, or when the ankle is bent inwards. Approximately 85% of ankle sprains occur due to excess inversion of this joint. Activities that require you to jump like basketball may put you at risk for lateral ankle sprains. Swelling, bruising, and pain on the outer side of the ankle are common signs & symptoms associated with these types of sprains. X-rays can be used to distinguish between soft tissue (ligaments) and bone to rule out fractures. An MRI is also used to confirm more severe ankle sprains, but it’s not necessary.

Ankle sprains can be treated by icing within the first 48 hours for 20 minutes every 2 hours, then it must be compressed with ACE bandage. While the patient is lying on his/her back, the ankle should be elevated above the patient’s nose. Immobility should be avoided, so physical therapy is eventually recommended to strengthen the peroneals muscle on the lateral side of the leg. Some strengthening exercises may include: bending your ankle outwards (eversion) against a resistance band, or performing calf raises by rising on your toes while standing.