Ankle Conditions and Treatments
From sprains and other injuries to arthritis, there are many reasons for ankle pain. Below are videos that can help inform you about some of the more common types of ankle problems and available treatment options.
Ankle Cartilage Problems
Treating Ankle Sprains
Lateral Ankle Sprains
Starr Harrison, ATC, Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine
Ankle sprains are the most common injuries experienced in sports. Eighty-five percent of all ankle injuries are sprains, and of those, eighty-five percent are lateral ankle sprains.
What are Lateral Ankle Sprains?
The ankle joint is formed by the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The outside, or lateral, ankle receives its stability from the architectural arrangement of these bones and from three ligaments—the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament.
What Causes Lateral Ankle Sprains?
Common mechanism of injury is rolling the foot inwardly, as in jumping and landing on another player’s foot. Sprains result from the stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments.
Ankle sprains may be classified by various systems. A common grading system considers a grade 1 sprain the mild stretching of the anterior talofibular ligament. Although uncomfortable, weight bearing is generally possible with limited swelling and tenderness over the lower front of the ankle.
A grade 2 sprain results from a moderate stress, often tearing the anterior talofibular ligament and stretching or tearing of the calcaneofibular ligament. More pain results, with more swelling and less ability to bear weight.
A grade 3 ankle sprain is quite uncommon in sports and results in tearing both the anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments and injury to the posterior talofibular ligament. Severe swelling and pain are noted with inability to weight bear. An unstable ankle results with degeneration of the joint often the outcome.
How to Treat Lateral Ankle Sprains:
- RICE—Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
- Use crutches if unable to bear weight
- Actively moving the foot while non-weight bearing to decrease swelling and stiffness
- Over the counter pain medications to alleviate discomfort
How to Prevent Ankle Sprains:
- Wear appropriate shoes for the activity
- Use ankle braces
- Fully rehabilitate all sprains
Tips from the ATC:
X-rays are indicated when there is localized pain along the lower ankle bone (distal fibula), along the bony prominence on the outside of the foot (base of the 5th metatarsal), or inability to bear weight more that a few steps.