Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in the lower quarter. More recently the long-term implications of these injuries were discussed at the international ankle consortium, sighting inadequate management of ankle injuries as a “significant global healthcare burden”.
To better understand how to manage ankle injuries, three considerations can be made to help guide the recovery process and lead to better long-term outcomes.
Is it another injury?
As a practitioner, I encourage myself to think about the musculoskeletal system last.
I ask myself: “Is this another injury presenting as an ankle sprain?”
This may include an injury to the peroneal nerves, central lumbar derangement or low back injury, fibular or tibial fracture, or other systemic pathology. Lupus, for example, has a tendency to create local ankle swelling and pain.
Clinically I’ve seen many of these that have gone amiss, leading to frustration and further complications.
High vs. low ankle
Why? This changes the course of management significantly.
The high ankle joint is by definition syndesmotic or non-moveable. The reality is, it moves, but not very much. When there is an injury to this joint or the structures surrounding it, the injury typically has a longer prognosis with an initial period of rest. Conversely, injuries to the lower ankle can be handled more “aggressively”.
If this major difference is recognized early in the process, it will change the outcome of how you heal.
This is true for all injuries. The ankle is an extension of the mechanics of the hip and trunk. Without a full comprehensive exam of how an ankle injury has affected lower quarter mechanics, the likelihood of re-injury increases.
So as always movement quality and quantity are key to long-term success. Learn to move again in all planes of motion. Learn to move pain-free and learn to move confidently.
So tell us your ankle stories. What successes or frustrations have you had?
What have you done on the journey that’s working well for you? We want to know!
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