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Similar to the foot, the ankle is also comprised of three main sections:

  • Tibia: also known as the shin bone, located on the inside of your ankle
  • Fibula: the thin bone on the outside of your lower leg that supports the tibia
  • Talus: one of the bones in your hindfoot that forms the lower part of the ankle joint, transferring weight from the lower leg onto the foot

The talus is located directly above the calcaneus, also known as the heel bone. These two bones are joined together at the subtalar joint, which enables the foot to rotate in both dorsiflexion and plantarflexion movements. Along with this wide range of mobility, the foot and ankle structures are critical for weight-bearing and balance.

Common Foot and Ankle Conditions

Due to the intricate anatomy of the foot and ankle, this area is one of the most susceptible regions in the body to injury. There are a wide range of conditions affecting the foot and ankle that can cause minor discomfort to severe pain. Some of the most common foot and ankle conditions include:

Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis of the foot and ankle is a disorder where inflammation occurs in one or more of the joints in the region. The two joints that are most often affected by arthritis are the metatarsophalangeal joint and the ankle joint. The feet and ankles are highly prone to developing arthritis because they provide support, shock absorption, balance, and other functions necessary to move. The three major types of arthritis that affect the foot and ankle are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Posttraumatic Arthritis

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries in the United States, with an estimated 2 million occurring each year. There are numerous ways that you can twist and sprain your ankle, from walking on an uneven surface to participating in competitive sports. The severity of an ankle sprain can be classified into three distinct grades:

  • Grade 1: least severe sprain, when ligaments have been overstretched
  • Grade 2: when there is partial tearing of one or more of the lateral ligaments
  • Grade 3: most severe sprain, when all of the ligaments are completely torn

Foot and Ankle Fractures

A foot and ankle fracture is a condition that occurs when one or more of the bones in the region break. Foot and ankle fractures are often due to an accident or injury that causes a sudden twisting motion of the lower leg, such as from a fall or a blow to the foot. With a fracture, there is usually tenderness to the touch and swelling in the area. If left untreated, foot fractures can lead to more serious complications, so it is important to seek medical attention at Performance Sports Medicine Institute for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Foot and Ankle Conditions

Foot and ankle conditions can usually be treated with non-surgical options like:

  • Splints, short leg cast, or protective device, such as a walking boot
  • Use of crutches to limit weight-bearing
  • Physical therapy
  • RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers

For more severe foot and ankle conditions, like a fracture in which bones are misaligned, surgical intervention may be necessary. There are multiple types of surgical interventions for the foot and ankle region, including arthroscopies, ligament reconstructions, fracture repairs, fusions, ankle replacements, and more.

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