The ankle joint is a remarkably complex structure of three bones, including the fibula and tibia (the two lower leg bones), as well as the talus, which sits just above the heel bone. The ankle joint allows for the up and down motion of the foot. The subtalar joint that sits just below the ankle joint is responsible for the side to side motion of the foot. The ankle and the subtalar joints allow us to engage in a variety of complex actions without thinking about them. Such actions include walking, running, and jumping.
Unfortunately, all it takes is being sidelined with a sprained or fractured ankle due to a sport injury or a fall to make us realize just how vital the ankle is to our everyday movement. As Dr. Nathen Horst specializes in treating sports injuries, it is not uncommon for him to see patients with sprained or fractured ankles.
Causes of Ankle Pain
Ankle sprains, in which the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint either stretch or tear due to being forced into an unnatural position, account for approximately 85 percent of all ankle injuries. Sprains can occur either in the actual ankle joint, or just above it, in the ligaments joining the tibia and fibula (called a high ankle sprain).
Ankle fractures occur when any of the three bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. However, this occurs most often in the lower tibia or fibula. Although the obvious signs of an ankle fracture are often similar to that of an ankle sprain (bruising, swelling, and pain), the most obvious differences will be an obvious deformity to the ankle area and an inability to bear weight on it.
Certain illnesses can also cause ankle pain, including gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis. These will all involve swelling of the joint and surrounding ligaments.
Treatments for Ankle Pain
The most common immediate treatment for ankle pain, particularly sprains, is what is known as RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be used. In more serious cases that require a visit to the doctor’s office, physical therapy, prescription pain medications, or casts may be used to immobilize the ankle.
Chiropractic care for ankle pain works on the principle of helping the body to heal naturally. The basis of chiropractic care is treating misalignment of the joint bones and surrounding ligaments and tendons. Once the joint has been adjusted into its proper position, the painful pressure on the nerves leading to and from the joint will be relieved. This will allow for the body to heal itself, but will also increase range of motion. Additionally, Dr. Horst may recommend the use of orthotics or ankle braces to prevent a recurrence of injury. This is particularly helpful for patients with a history of flat feet or who roll their feet outward or inward as they walk.
Whether due to landing badly from a jump shot in basketball, wiping out on the ski slopes, or some other ankle-related injury or illness, proper chiropractic care can get patients back on their feet as quickly as possible.