Sprains, which represent the stretching, tearing or rupturing of the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together, are one of the most common injuries. Active people are more highly susceptible to sprains. Running, pivoting, kicking, jumping − virtually any sport, from basketball to golf or tennis, can cause you to land in such a way as to cause a sprain within the foot or ankle. Everyday mishaps, like twisting an ankle or landing awkwardly off a curb or step, can also result in a sprain.
Strains, as opposed to sprains, represent damage to muscles and tendons, not ligaments. Foot and ankle strains are common among people who overdo their activity, fail to warm up properly, pull or stretch the foot, wear poorly fitting shoes, or consistently run on hard or uneven surfaces.
Fractures of the ankle bone (the talus) can occur on either side of the ankle, or as a chip off the front part of the heel bone (the calcaneus). The symptoms of fractures are similar to those of sprains: foot and ankle pain, bruising, swelling, or inability to bear weight. A fracture may also feel tender to the touch, and give the foot or ankle a deformed appearance.
Painful medical conditions like arthritis and tendonitis can be triggered by past injuries to the foot or ankle. Arthritis, in particular, can form after a break or fracture of the joint, while tendonitis can arise from the constant strain on tendons associated with an over-pronated running style (landing on the outer rim of the foot). Some common foot and ankle conditions treated at the New York Sports Medicine Institute include Achilles tendonitis, arthritis of the foot and ankle, ankle instability, peroneal tendonitis, bunions, corns and calluses, flat foot, hammertoe, Lisfranc injury, Morton’s neuroma, and Plantar Fasciitis.
Simple sprains and strains of the soft tissue can often be treated at home with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). However, more serious or widespread problems require a physician’s examination. A bone chip or fracture, for example, can leave fragments in the joint that further compromise the ankle’s weight-bearing ability or the foot’s range of motion.
Arthroscopic procedures are frequently the most effective way to diagnose and treat pain and the “buckling” or “locking” sensation of a foot or ankle condition. This minimally invasive treatment employs video cameras to survey the inside of the injury, where the surgeon may then use delicate instruments to remove or repair chips, fractures, or tears.