Did you know that podiatrists are licensed to treat more than just your foot? Your ankle and surrounding structures play a vital role in how your foot functions, therefore podiatrists specialize in the treatment of the entire lower leg. The muscles, tendons, and bones of the leg attach to the bones of the foot, therefore it is vital that your podiatrist examine and treat these structures during the course of your treatment. Podiatric physicians and surgeons are the only specialists who focus 100% of their training on this part of the body and are therefore the most qualified specialists to treat these areas.
Ankle Fracture/Broken Ankle
One of the most common traumatic injuries of the leg is an ankle fracture or broken ankle. The ankle is a highly complex joint consisting of three bones which must function together as a unit to provide optimal pain free joint motion. When one or all of the bones in the ankle are broken, the joint must be properly realigned in order to best insure the injured ankle will have this optimal pain free motion in the future. This is typically performed during a surgical procedure using metal plates and screws. Should you sustain a broken ankle, it is important that you have it evaluated by someone who specializes in the surgical treatment of the ankle joint. The doctors at the Foot and Ankle Center have the necessary training and experience to ensure you receive the best care possible for this complex condition.
Sometimes more complex than breaking your ankle, ankle sprains affect the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint. There are four major ligaments which surround the joint and three more which hold together the two bones in your leg which may become injured during an ankle sprain. The most common mechanism of injury is termed an “inversion sprain” which is when the sole of your foot turns toward the midline of your body and you injure the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. This is termed a “lateral ankle sprain.” During a sprain the ligaments can either be ruptured (in two pieces) or attenuated (stretched or torn). Because these ligaments contain the nerves which coordinate balance and reflexes, it is imperative that these ligaments are rehabilitated properly following an injury. Foot and ankle specialists deal with these complex problems every day and are the most qualified physicians to treat these conditions. Conservative treatments include bracing, medications, immobilzation, and rest. Recurrent ankle sprains may be the result of an underlying foot or ankle deformity and can be corrected surgically. Read Dr. Walimire’s article in Podiatry Today about lateral ankle instability.
Many individuals suffer from ankle joint arthritis secondary to a previous injury of the affected leg or a systemic inflammatory disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Those with a history of a broken ankle, or even a sprain, can suffer the long term effects of the injury with degeneration of the joint. Arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a condition in which the cartilage of the joint has thinned or even eroded away completely and the normal smooth motion of the joint is no longer possible. The symptoms include pain and inflammation of the area, limited joint range of motion, crepitus or grinding of the joint with motion, and enlargement of the joint secondary to bony spurring. Treatment for ankle arthritis depends on the severity of the condition. If addressed early enough, joint injections with steroid or lubricants can prolong conservative treatments. End stage arthritis can be treated with resection of the bony spurs, resurfacing of the joint, total joint