Pacifica Orthopedics, Huntington Beach, California.

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You don’t have to be an athlete to hurt your ankles. Sometimes, simple activity like walking can cause an ankle injury.

An ankle injury involves the ligaments, tendons and bones in the ankle. It happens when the ankle joint is twisted to its extreme. The common injuries are sprains and fractures. Sprain occurs when ligaments are overstretched from their normal motion range. It could lead to microscopic tears to a complete fissure of the ligament. A fracture happens when one or more of the bones are broken. One careless step on an uneven surface can cause a damaging effect to the ankle.

It is quite difficult to tell whether the ankle injury is caused by a sprain or a fracture as both of them show the same signs. Both show swelling and bruising. The injured person shows pain and the inability to walk or bear weight. First aid treatment during the moment of injury may temporarily relieve the pain. But you have to seek an orthopedic attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

The orthopedic professional will have to evaluate the swelling and the pain, and may request for an X-ray to see if there are broken bones. In some cases, the practitioner will request an MRI.

Fractured bones may be treated surgically if the ankle is unstable. The surgical procedure requires a metal plate inserted and screwed to connect the bones. After surgery, a splint will be used to protect the broken ankle until the swelling is gone. The bones may take six weeks to heal. The doctor will usually advice you not to put any weight on the ankle during that critical period. Although you can resume doing your usual routine within three to four months, it would take two years to completely heal from an ankle fracture. Physical therapy and home exercises will be recommended by the doctor.

Sprains are typically treated by keeping it immobile. For severe sprain, orthopedic professional will prescribe physical therapy for your ankle to restore its normal motion and strength.

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