When to Consult an Ankle Pain Specialist

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Healthy and fully functional ankles are essential to balance and physical performance. Your ankle joints are pivotal in supporting your body weight and producing functional movement. Considering all the work they do, your ankles are vulnerable to injury and dysfunction, simply due to wear and tear of daily living. When you add sports and physical activity to the mix, your ankles work overtime to run, jump and absorb shock.

Ankle Structure and Function

Your ankle joint connects your foot to your lower leg, and is divided into two segments, the upper ankle (talocrural joint) and the lower ankle (subtalar joint).

The upper ankle is a hinge joint made up of three bones: the fibula (calf bone), tibia (shin bone) and talus (ankle bone). The main movements of the upper ankle are dorsiflexion (pointing the toes upward toward the shin) and plantar flexion (pointing the toes downward toward the ground).

The lower ankle is formed by three bones, the talus (ankle bone), calcaneus (heel bone) and the navicular bone. The primary movements of the lower ankle are inversion (rolling the foot outward, sometimes called supination) and eversion (rolling the foot inward, sometimes called pronation).

Your ankle joints are supported by a complex network of ligaments, tendons and muscles that enable them to sustain high force loads during movement or balance activities.

Common Ankle Injuries

Because of the complexity of the ankle joint, any of its many structures may sustain injury. The most common types of ankle injury include:

  • Sprain: The most commonly reported ankle injury, a sprain results from stretching of the ligaments that support the ankle beyond their normal limits, resulting in inflammation, tearing, or rupture. The most common sprain is an inversion sprain, where the foot rolls under the ankle, damaging tissue on the outside of the ankle. While ankle sprains are common sports injuries, they can also happen during walking, when the foot encounters an uneven surface.
  • Shin splints: Clinically called medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are an inflammation of the tissues along the inner border of the tibia, where muscles attach to bone. Shin splints often occur from physical activities like running, and are often linked to inappropriate or worn footwear.
  • Achilles tendinitis: Achilles tendinitis is felt as pain along the back of the leg near the heel. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body, connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. The Achilles tendon can withstand great force loads from running and jumping, but overuse can cause inflammation and rupture. Tight calf muscles from wearing high heels can predispose you to Achilles tendonitis.

Treatment for Ankle Problems

Ongoing pain and/or inflammation in the area surrounding your ankle joint signals a problem that should not be ignored. Because your ankles form a foundation for your entire body, ankle pain can translate up your kinetic chain to affect your knees, hips and spine. Failure to seek treatment may lead to further injury and eventual disability. A dysfunctional ankle also affects balance and can lead to injuries from falls.

Treatment for ankle pain may include:

  • Diagnostic ultrasonography
  • Video gait analysis and retraining
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Stability and balance exercises
  • ESWT (extracorporeal shockwave therapy)
  • Cold and heat therapy

At NYDNRehab, our ankle pain specialists take a multimodal approach to treatment for ankle pain. We especially focus on movement mechanics, correcting deficient running and walking gait patterns so the foot and ankle move in more mechanically efficient ways. Our treatment is individually based on diagnostic results of sophisticated gait analysis.

The foot and ankle pain specialists at NYDNRehab go beyond just treating your pain by correcting the underlying deficiencies that often lead to injury. Do not ignore your ongoing ankle pain. Contact NYDNRehab today for complete analysis, diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment.

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