The ankle joint is the meeting of the bones of the leg and the foot and is responsible for the up and down motion of the foot. In popular usage, the ankle is often considered to be the ankle joint plus the surrounding anatomic region, including the lower end of the leg and the start of the flat part of the foot. Pain in the ankle can result from inflammation or injury to any of the structures in this region, including the bones, joint space, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or muscles. Ankle pain can be associated with other symptoms including:
- Ankle swelling
- Numbness or tingling
- Burning pain
- Inability to bear weight on the affected ankle
Loose Bodies in the Ankle
Loose bodies are small fragments of cartilage or bone that can form in joints; particularly the hip, knee and elbow, but also in the ankle joint and the joint below.
Loose bodies don’t have to cause problems and they can often be stable and fixed within the joint space. If they are free in the joint they may become trapped between the bony joint surfaces where they may give rise to twinges of pain, locking of the joint or blocked or ‘springy’ movements.
A loose body in the ankle and foot causes twinges of pain, swelling and the sensation of giving way. There may also be the sensation of locking but that usually passes quite quickly.
Physiotherapy can help by applying a special technique that stretches through the affected joint to give the loose body room to move, and then applying a few sharp flicks to jolt the loose body into a more comfortable position.
Fractures & Fracture Care
An ankle fracture is when 1 or more of the bones in your ankle break.
What causes an ankle fracture?
- A car accident
- A direct blow to the ankle
- Falling on your ankle
What are the signs and symptoms of an ankle fracture?
- You have pain, redness, and swelling.
- Your ankle feels warm when you touch it.
- You have trouble moving your ankle or foot.
- You cannot put weight on your injured ankle.
- Your foot feels weak, achy, or numb.
- You see parts of the bone coming out of the skin.
How is an ankle fracture diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your injury and examine you. You may need any of the following tests:
- X-ray: This is a picture of your ankle fracture. You may be given dye as a shot into your joint before the x-ray. This dye will help your joint show up better on the x-ray. A joint x-ray with dye is called an arthrogram.
- CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your ankle. Healthcare providers check for a fracture and tissue damage. You may be given dye in your IV to help your healthcare providers see the images better. Tell the healthcare provider if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.
- MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your ankle. An MRI is used to look for ligament tears or other injuries. You may be given dye in your IV to help your healthcare providers see the images better. Remove all jewelry, and tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.
Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains are injuries to the body, often resulting from physical activity. These injuries are common and can range from minor to severe, depending on the incident. Most sprains and strains are minor and don’t require medical attention.
Sprains occur at joints and affect ligaments, which connect bone to bone. Strains affect muscles or tendons, which connect muscle to bone. They most often occur at the calf, thigh, or groin.