The ankles are flexible enough to permit a wide range of motion, yet strong enough to bear the weight of the entire body. Nevertheless, ankles can still be injured. Today, as more people engage in sports and physical activities, ankle injuries have become increasingly common.
An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments in the ankle joint are stretched or torn. Ligaments are strong like cloth, tough, but when pulled to their limit, they can tear. Depending upon the amount of ligament tearing, a sprain can be either mild, moderate, or severe. The accumulation of fluids after a ligament injury gives rise to the characteristic symptoms of the sprained ankle: pain, swelling, and bruising.
A fracture is a broken bone. Ankle fractures can result from a twist or forceful blow to the lower leg. In a non-displaced fracture one or more bones are broken. In a displaced fracture bones, in addition to being broken, are also thrown out of alignment. Displaced fractures threaten the stability of the joint and require repositioning of the bone called reduction. Ankle fractures are usually painful and may be accompanied by swelling and bruising.
Achilles Tendon Problem
The Achilles tendon is the prominent tendon at the back of the heel that is essential to walking, running, and standing. Overuse can sometimes cause painful swelling (Achilles tendonitis), or with a sudden, forceful strain the tendon can snap (Achilles rupture).
Tendons and Ligaments
The outside and inside views of the ankle anatomy show the many fibrous tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect the muscles in the lower leg to the bones of the ankle. Depending upon which muscle contracts, the foot moves up, down, or from side to side. Ligaments connect bone to bone and help stabilize the ankle joint.