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Ankle Conditions

Like any other joint in the body the ankle can be affected by fractures, ligament and tendon injuries, arthritis and deformities.  Our physicians are amongst the best in the nation for care of these conditions that include:

  1. Fractures and dislocations and sprains
  2. Chronic instability and ligament injuries
  3. Arthritis
  4. Tendon injuries

Ankle Fractures

Like severely sprained ankles, broken ankles are often caused by a fall, injury or car accident. Symptoms that one or more of the three bones that make up the ankle may be fractured are: severe pain in the ankle; swelling; bruising; tenderness; inability to bear weight; and deformity of the joint. May be accompanied by dislocation or ligament damage (sprain).  Based on severity of the damage, displacement and alignment of the fragments, the fracture may be treated in a cast, surgically with internal or external fixation. Your physician will review your history, check your radiographic exam, and determine the best treatment for your injury.

Chronic Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle instability is a condition in which the outer portion of the ankle constantly “gives way.” This condition typically occurs after walking or running, although it may also occur while standing still. Chronic ankle instability commonly affects athletes.

Causes of Chronic Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle instability occurs as a result of an ankle sprain that has not healed properly. A sprained ankle tears or stretches connective tissues, affecting your balance. Proper treatment of an ankle sprain is necessary to prevent chronic ankle instability and other conditions from occurring.

Symptoms of Chronic Ankle Instability

The most common symptom of chronic ankle instability is a wobbly, unstable feeling within your ankle. Additional symptoms may include pain or tenderness of the ankle, constant swelling and discomfort, and continuous turning of the ankle when walking or running on uneven surfaces. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, as these may be a sign of chronic ankle instability.

Diagnosing Chronic Ankle Instability

Most cases of chronic ankle instability can be treated through non-surgical measures; these may include physical therapy, painkillers, or ankle bracing. Severe cases of chronic ankle instability that remain unresponsive to conservative treatment methods may require surgical correction. Surgery for chronic ankle instability involves repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligaments that are responsible for your symptoms. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan based on your individual condition.

Ankle Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat injuries and abnormalities within the joints. This procedure is commonly used to confirm a diagnosis made by physical examination and imaging techniques. It can also be used to treat conditions within the joints, if they are not too complicated.

Although most commonly performed in the knee and hip, arthroscopy can also be beneficial in diagnosing and treating conditions of the ankle joint. While ankle surgery once required an invasive open procedure that left patients with long hospital stays and recovery times, many of those procedures can now be performed with the simpler, less invasive arthroscopy.

What is ankle arthroscopy used for?

Ankle arthroscopy can be used to treat a wide range of ankle conditions and relieve the chronic pain often associated with these conditions. Ankle arthroscopy is often successful in treating:

  • Tissue bands
  • Ligament tears
  • Articular cartilage damage
  • Bone spurs
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis

Many of these procedures once required open surgery in order to access the ankle and treat the condition. Oftentimes, your surgeon will perform ankle arthroscopy to confirm the diagnosis of a certain condition, and then discover that the condition can be treated as well through this minimally invasive procedure.

How is this procedure performed?

Ankle arthroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis and uses tiny incisions to access the ankle joint. During this procedure, a camera tube called an arthroscope is inserted into one of the incisions and small surgical instruments

The surgical instruments will be inserted if needed to remove or repair tissue within the ankle joint. The instruments and arthroscope are then removed and the incisions are closed with sutures. The arthroscopy procedure usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to perform.

This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Patients may experience some pressure, but otherwise the actual procedure is basically painless. The small incisions help greatly reduce the recovery time needed from this procedure, and allow patients to return to work and other regular activities much sooner. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for six weeks after this procedure.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

Arthroscopy offers many benefits over a traditional open surgery because of its minimally invasive nature. This procedure has reduced the trauma and severity associated with many ankle procedures, and offers patients the opportunity to get relief from their pain through a simple, outpatient procedure.

Ankle arthroscopy offers patients:

  • Shorter recovery times
  • Less scarring
  • Less bleeding
  • Smaller incisions
  • No cutting of muscles or tendons
  • Less pain and discomfort

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

While ankle arthroscopy is considered a safe procedure overall, there are certain risks associated with any surgical procedure. Some of these risks include infection, nerve damage, and tingling, numbness and burning sensations. These risks are considered rare, as most patients undergo this procedure with little to no complications.

Although ankle arthroscopy is a safe procedure that can benefit many patients, it is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor to learn more about this procedure and to find out if it is right for you.

Ankle Arthritis

Like any other joint in the body, the ankle can be affected by arthritis, a chronic condition that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness and an eventual loss of motion in the affected area. The ankle is the joint that connects the shinbone (tibia) to the upper bone of the foot (talus). Although the ankle is not affected by arthritis as commonly as other joints such as the hand and hip, it is still a serious condition that can cause severe pain for those affected.

Arthritis is classified as an inflammation of a joint, and can develop as a result of several different causes, but is most often from the degenerative wear and tear on a joint that occurs as we age. The bone ends of a joint are covered by a material called cartilage which helps to cushion the bone and allow for a smooth movement of the bones within the joint. As we age, this cartilage gradually wears away and leaves the bone ends rough and uncovered, causing symptoms to develop.

Types

  • Osteoarthritis – This condition is common in older patients and is the result of a consistent wear and tear on the joint over time, which causes the smooth cartilage on the ends of the bones to become worn and frayed.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – This condition is a chronic immune system condition that can affect the entire body and causes inflammation as the body attacks and destroys its own cartilage.
  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis – This condition develops after an injury, sometimes years after a fracture, and causes effects similar to osteoarthritis.

Causes

The cause of ankle arthritis can vary depending on the type of condition. It is believed that osteoarthritis is a genetic condition that tends to run in families. Athletes and other active patients may be at a higher risk for post-traumatic

Ankle arthritis can also be caused by an infection of the joint that causes damage to the cartilage cells, which cannot regrow, or by excessive pressure in patients who are obese.

Symptoms

Patients with arthritis of the ankle may not experience any symptoms as the cartilage holding the joint together becomes damaged. As the condition progresses, symptoms usually worsen and may include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Instability
  • Bone spurs
  • Deformity of the joint
  • Difficulty walking

If the nerves surrounding the joint become irritated as well, patients may experience numbness and tingling as well.

Treatment

Treatment for ankle arthritis depends on the type and severity of the condition, but usually begins with the most conservative methods.

Some patients may experience relief from their symptoms by wearing more comfortable shoes, wearing cushioned shoe inserts, limiting impact activities and wearing a brace.

Anti-inflammatory medication and cortisone injections are often helpful in relieving pain temporarily, especially during flare ups.

If these treatments are unsuccessful, patients may benefit from more advanced treatments such as ankle arthroscopy, ankle fusion surgery or ankle replacement surgery.

Your doctor will determine which treatment option is best for you based on your individual condition.  It is important to seek treatment for ankle arthritis as soon as possible to help prevent the condition from worsening. If you suspect that you may have ankle arthritis, you should see your doctor right away. He or she will review your medical and family history, and perform a physical examination to diagnose this condition.

Prevention

Although ankle arthritis usually cannot be prevented, there are certain measures you can take to help reduce your risk of developing this condition, along with many others.

Talk to your doctor to assess your risk of developing ankle arthritis and to learn more about how you can prevent this condition.

 

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