Some people look at the human body as just a simple kind of machine that performs certain actions over and over again. However a closer look reveals that the human body is an intricate and complex machine, and every component and function that takes place is a small part of a huge system that relies on every single component to function properly in order for the entire machine to work. The ankle joint in our body is a major player for providing stability in the knees and the hip joint. Although it may be small in size, the role it plays in just about every step that we take is huge.
The ankle joint is made up of four bones: the tibia, the fibula, the talus and the calcaneus. When an ankle injury occurs, depending on how severe it is, it will limit or reduce your ability to perform tasks that we usually perform without even thinking. If you are active, always on the go or participate in exercises regularly, then an ankle injury can reduce your ability to be able to do these activities. It is important that you have the injury assessed and treated immediately. If you have not incurred an ankle injury yet, you should know that there are things that you can do to help prevent some of the more common injuries that do occur.
Some symptoms of an ankle injury include swelling, instability, and difficulty holding up your own weight, bruising or pain. When you go to a physician to have a potential ankle injury assessed, he or she will put your ankle joint through a series of movements to properly diagnose the injury you have and its degree of severity. Two of the most common ankle injuries are torn ankle ligaments and ankle sprains. An ankle sprain occurs when ankle ligaments stretch beyond the normal range of movement without tearing, and an ankle ligament tear is when the ankle joint is moved past its range of movement and the ligaments have actually torn.
Treatment of common ankle injuries can include a series of range of motion exercises. These exercises are used to begin getting the ankle joint used to moving in various directions, however you must be sure not to overstretch it during your initial rehabilitation process or injury may reoccur. Additionally you may increase the strength of the muscles around the ankle injury by performing isometric and balancing exercises, which will help to stabilise and improve the muscle strength around the area of injury. Some doctors may also include hydrotherapy as a functional rehabilitation exercise during a certain stage of your recovery. Hydrotherapy allows you to incorporate a general fitness programme that will help to rehabilitate the ankle without putting stresses on it that will complicate the injury.
At the first signs of what could be an ankle injury you can follow what is known as the RICER treatment method. This treatment method is used for any type of soft tissue injury and it helps to relieve pain and swelling and is one of the most effective ways to reduce your recovery time. The acronym RICER stands for:
- Rest. This means not walking on your ankle or placing any stress on it.
- Ice. Placing ice on the injured area can reduce bleeding, swelling and pain, and the sooner you apply it the easier the healing process will be.
- Compression. By wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage and placing a small amount of pressure on it, you reduce swelling and bleeding and give more support to the ankle and the leg.
- Elevation. By elevating the injured area above heart level, you reduce blood flow to the area. This helps to reduce any swelling and also speeds up the healing process.
- Referral, if you believe your ankle injury is too serious for you to deal with on your own then you should refer yourself to a physical therapist or other medical professional who will help to evaluate s your injury and recommend a recovery programme.
There are two ankle injuries that are more complicated and that will require more than just the previously mentioned treatments. These two injuries are known as ankle fractures and ankle dislocations. These injuries will have different rehabilitation processes and additionally you would have to wear a cast in order for the healing process to be complete. There are some exercises that can be done to aid recovery with the cast on and that will help to keep you focused and confident that they will recover from their injury.
The best advice for helping to prevent common ankle injuries include being sure to warm up properly before conducting any exercises or activities that will stress the ankle area. By practicing balancing and polymetric exercises you can help strengthen the ankle area as well as the muscles that help to support it. Wearing the proper footwear is also important to preventing ankle injuries, since the right pair of shoes helps to stabilise your ankle when running, walking or any other type of movement. Finally, if you have had an ankle injury in the past you are more susceptible to one. When performing exercises and activities that are strenuous on your ankles, it is advisable to wrap them with an elastic bandage or tape to help provide additional support. Ankle injuries can be debilitating injuries; however by taking the proper steps when you even think that you may have an ankle injury you can quickly assess just what type of injury you have and begin a proper rehabilitation programme that will help you to recover quickly and return to the activities of everyday life that you enjoy.