A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.
Ligaments help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.
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 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.
Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
Chronic lateral ankle pain is recurring or chronic pain on the outside part of the ankle that often develops after an injury such as a sprained ankle. Other conditions, however, may also cause chronic 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.
- Steroid medication.
- Immobilization to allow the bone to heal (in cases of fractures).
Osteochondritis Dessicans are lesions that usually cause pain and stiffness of the ankle joint and affect all age groups. Often, Osteochondritis usually follow a twisting type injury to the ankle.
Osteochondritis may cause swelling and ankle pain. When immobilization of the injury doesn’t alleviate the problem, surgery is sometimes prescribed. The procedure 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.