Joints and other moving parts in any machine have to be both strong and moveable. They have to be sturdy enough to handle the weight and pressure of the objects they are supporting, but remain flexible enough to allow motion. This means that these machine parts are usually more likely to break than solid ones. The same thing holds true for your ankles. These joints have to be both strong and flexible. Ankle pain arises when anything stresses or damages the bones or supporting tissues in the joint.
There are many different ankle problems and any injury or foot condition that causes ankle pain falls into this category. The sources of ankle and foot pain include traumatic and overuse injuries, wear and tear over time, infections, and nerve issues, among other things. The most common source of pain in the ankles is a sprain. This is a sudden over-stretching of the ligaments that support and stabilize the joint. This condition needs to be treated properly so the ligaments can heal, otherwise the ankle risks chronic instability and pain.
Fractures are another sudden, traumatic injury to this joint. Any sudden blow can break one of the three bones that make up the ankle—the talus and the two lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula. Like a sprain, this needs prompt and invested care to avoid long-term discomfort and weakness.
Overuse, Wear, and Tear
The general day-to-day use and pressure you put on your lower limbs throughout your lifetime can take a toll on your feet and ankles. Excessive strain can lead to issues like Achilles tendinitis, which causes discomfort behind your joint. Arthritis is a breakdown of the protective tissues between and around the bones that allows your ankle to move smoothly. As these tissues disintegrate, your bones grind together painfully and cause a stiffening in your lower limbs. Osteochondritis is a similar problem that creates an uncomfortable lesion in the protective cartilage.
Infections and Nerve Issues
Like anywhere else in the lower limbs, your ankles can develop infections and nerve injuries. Infections in the ankle are usually developed through wounds in the skin, though they can also come from bone issues like osteomyelitis or septic arthritis. A little more common are nerve issues that impact the joint. Tarsal tunnel is a compressed nerve that runs along the inside of the ankle. When it’s pinched, it can cause discomfort through the joint and into the foot.
Managing the Ankle Pain
The specific treatment will depend on the individual condition. Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., will need to carefully examine your ankles to determine the actual problem. This may involve using X-rays, range of motion checks, and other tests. Then you can begin a targeted treatment plan.
Typically resting your lower limbs is a main component of care for ankle pain You may need to take steps to stabilize the joint or lower inflammation. Occasionally this means uses splints or casts to immobilize the foot while your ankle recovers. Sometimes stretching, changing footwear, or using orthotics also help. Once the initial damage is resolved, you’ll need physical therapy to restore the joint to full strength.
Ankle problems are uncomfortable and can significantly limit your mobility. The right care, however, can restore your joint and get you back to your favorite activities without pain. Let Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., at Foot Specialist of Long Island, help you take care of your lower limbs and any foot pain you may be experiencing. Just contact our Massapequa, NY, office for an appointment. You can reach us through our web contact page or by calling (516) 804-9038.