Anna Kournikova, Tennis Player
WHAT'S INVOLVED IN DAMAGED ANKLE LIGAMENTS?
The ankle bone (talus) and the ends of the two lower leg bones (tibia and
fibula) form the ankle joint, which is stabilized and supported by three groups
of ligaments. Muscles and tendons move the foot and ankle.
According to the Rothman Institute, the ankle is the most common area for
injury in the body. It has been estimated that 15% of all sports injuries
involve the ligaments, bones, and tendons of the ankle.
During sports-related ankle injuries, the foot is likely to turn inward
(ankle inversion) from a fall, tackle, or jump. This stretches or tears
ligaments, resulting in an ankle sprain. The outside (lateral side) of the
ankle is injured 90% of the time when the ankle rolls over; this is considered
an inversion sprain.
Often, the ankle is tender, swollen, and discolored. Walking may be
difficult, depending on the severity of the sprain.
The physician examines the ankle to identify the type of ankle sprain and
determine the appropriate method of treatment. Ankle sprains are classified by
"types" and range from mild to moderate to severe. A type I ankle
sprain, the least severe, occurs when ligament fibers have been stretched or
Type II sprains occur when some of these fibers or ligaments are completely
torn. In type III sprains, the entire ligament is torn, and there is
significant instability of the ankle joint.
Classifying ankle sprains helps the physician diagnose the specific
structures involved in the injury. This also helps determine appropriate
treatment plans for each type of ankle sprain. X-rays of the ankle and foot are
often used to rule out bone fractures, dislocations, or joint instability.
Sometimes, the physician may recommend computerized tomography (CT) and
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if he or she wants more detailed views of the
bone and soft tissue around the ankle joint.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following to
help reduce ankle injury risk:
- Warm up before any sports activity, including practice.
- Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength.
- Do stretching exercises daily.
- Never run when experiencing pain in the foot or ankle.
- Wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport.
- Replace athletic shoes as soon as the tread or heel wears out.
- Wear properly fitting athletic clothes and equipment.