Thinking you need ankle surgery? Your ankle is an important joint that if injured may require orthopedic surgery. The ankle is not a bone at all; it is a joint made of three total bones. The three bones are the tibia, fibula, and talus. The part that we feel and call, the ankle, is the malleolus. Ankle problems can be a result of strain, sprain, breaks, or arthritis. The ankle is necessary for walking and assists in the movement of the foot. Pain in the ankle joint will need to be seen by an orthopedic doctor and in serious cases may require orthopedic surgery.
For the ankle to work properly, it must be flexible. It is made of three bones but is held together by ligaments. Ligaments are connective tissue that connects bones together. Ligaments are strong and cannot be torn easily. The ankle is considered a joint because it is the point where three bones are joined. The malleolus is not one bone alone, but the base of the tibia and fibula. The medial malleolus is the base of the tibia bone and is located on the inside of the leg forming the inner ankle bone. The posterior malleolus is also part of the base of the tibia and makes the back of the ankle. Lastly, the lateral malleolus is the base of the fibula and forms the outer ankle bone.
Any break in one of these bones or tears in the ligaments leads to ankle pain. Ankle fractures result in the breakage of one or multiple bones. It can lead to the ankle being dislocated and affect your ability to walk. Ankle breaks can happen from a twist, fall, or injury that crushes the foot. The symptoms of a break include swelling, bruising, tenderness, pain, and visible deformity. If you cannot put any pressure on your foot at all, it more than likely is a break. X-rays are used to show fractures. An x-ray will show where the break is specifically as well as the severity. Severe breaks require orthopedic surgery.
Ankle Sprains & Strains
Ankle sprains and strains are painful but are a result of injuries to the ligament or tendons around the ankle. Strain refers to an injury to the muscle or tendon, whereas a sprain is a result of damage to the ligaments. A sprain can be either in the area of the ankle or lower leg. A lower leg sprain is referred to as a high ankle sprain. Both sprains are painful, but high ankle sprains take longer to heal. Both sprains and strains are results of twisting or rolling your ankle. They can also be a result of a fall. Unless these ligaments or tendons are torn or ruptured, they may not need surgery; but an orthopedic physician will keep an eye on them to make sure they heal properly.
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. With the ankle being a joint, arthritis is a common problem. It leads to a lot of pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe form of arthritis that involves the body’s immune system attacking its joints. This condition leads to a greater measure of pain and may require an ankle replacement by an orthopedic surgeon. The ankle replacement will help with pain and allow you to engage in more activity.
Gout & Psoriasis
Other separate issues that affect the ankle include both gout and psoriasis. Gout is a disease characteristic of crystal deposits that fall into the joint. It is also considered to be a form of arthritis. Gout is an issue that causes sudden pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints including the ankle. It makes walking difficult. The crystals that fall into the joint as a result of uric acid build up. When there is too much uric acid in the blood, the body will begin to create crystals. The joint issues are something an orthopedic surgeon may need to deal with, but the uric acid issues may have to be dealt with by a cardiologist or hematologist. Psoriasis is a skin disease that leaves the skin dry, scaly, and itchy. You may be wondering what psoriasis has to do with your ankles, but the ankles are covered by skin. The irritation and swelling may affect your joints and in this case, your ankle joint. Psoriasis is, therefore, a possible precursor to arthritis.
You have probably had a sprained ankle and did not think much about it; wrapped it up and kept going. Some ankle injuries can heal on their own and require no medical attention but others may require orthopedic surgery. You may not associate an ankle with an orthopedic physician but in the cases of breaks or worn down cartilage from arthritis, orthopedic surgery is necessary. Surgery can be as easy as adding screws to keep a bone in place or as difficult as a total ankle replacement. The ankles’ function is to help us walk, and they connect the leg to the foot. Pain and swelling in that joint can be bothersome. Any persistent pain and swelling should be seen by an orthopedic doctor. Don’t walk around limping; get your ankles checked. An easy fix today, if not treated, can mean orthopedic surgery tomorrow.
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