Ankle Sprains and Surgery
Ankle surgery may be required to correct a serious deformity of the ankle and its bone structure. Injury (such as a fracture), birth defects, or changes throughout the course of life are the usual culprits. Diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuromuscular conditions, may cause severe foot and ankle deformities that, over time, cause pain and difficulty in walking.
Ankle surgeries emphasize the realignment of the structure either around or after removal of the deformity. Various kinds of internal and external fixation devices—some temporary, others permanent—are often required to maintain the appropriate alignment during, and beyond, the healing process.
Ankle surgeries vary in complexity, length, and severity, yet many of them today are conducted on a same-day, outpatient basis. Patients need to arrange for another person to take them home afterwards and stay with them for the first 24 hours following the surgery. Post-operative instructions, provided by your surgeon, will give you the information needed to care for your recovering ankle following surgery.
Game Plan for Ankle Sprains
If you love basketball, you know the delight of seeing a player take that perfect jump shot that swishes through the net. If you or your son or daughter plays, you may also know the agony of landing wrong from such a shot, and collapsing on the floor in pain. Ankle sprains are common injuries for basketball players, because of the side-to-side motions and jumping involved. Tennis players, dancers, gymnasts, and any others who do these types of movements are equally at risk, but you could sustain this injury just by stepping off a curb or wearing tipsy high heels as well.
Analyzing Ankle Sprains
Your joint is held together by ligaments that stretch to a certain point when you move and then return to their normal position. Whenever they are stretched beyond their normal range, they can be damaged. The tissues can become too lax and not contract as they should, or they can tear partially or completely. The damaged tissue itself can cause pain to some degree, but because your ligaments are too weak to hold your joint in place, bones moving out of position or against each other can also be uncomfortable. Add to that the pressure of swelling and inflammation and you could be in for a rough time.
Grading the Pain
Ankle sprains are usually categorized according to the extent of the damage, pain, and limitations they cause. Grade 1 is mild, with some pain and microscopic tearing, but not severely limiting. Grade 2, a moderate injury, will hurt more because the tears are more extreme and swelling more severe. Standing or walking on it may be more difficult. With a grade 3, the ligament is completely torn in two and the ankle is very unstable. You won’t be able to put weight on it without severe pain.
Scoring a Win with the Right Treatment
First aid treatment for a sprained ankle ligament includes resting, not putting weight on it, icing, and using a compression bandage for pain and swelling. We recommend elevating your foot above heart level whenever possible, too, to prevent blood and fluids from pooling in the area and causing pressure.
It is important to have your injury seen, to rule out a fracture or check whether the ligament has pulled away part of the bone. For moderate sprains, we will likely immobilize the joint with a protective boot, brace, or cast so that the ligaments will not be overstretched as they heal. We can also show you exercises and stretches to recondition your tissues, or set up physical therapy sessions to strengthen the joint and regain your range-of-motion.
Avoiding Instant Replays
You need to take the time to let your ankle heal properly, and follow the physical therapy recommendations to get the ligaments strong and functioning again as they should. Otherwise, you may end up rolling on the floor in pain again the next time you land wrong on your foot. Proper healing is key to heading off future sprains, chronic pain, and instability.
Contact Dr. Rahn Ravenell and Dr. Tamika Ravenell for expert care for your feet and lower legs. We are proud sponsors of Carolina Team 843 Youth AAU Basketball Team and have seen our share of sports injuries like ankle sprains. We’ll do our best to get you back in the game quickly.