These types of injuries can be very complicated to treat. In order to properly recover and to avoid future pain or recurring injuries, you should see an experienced orthopedic specialist for foot and ankle care. As soon as you experience trauma, an orthopedic doctor at MedStar Health can diagnose your condition and offer treatment options to help you fully recover. This includes making sure that your bones realign properly and you regain maximum function as you heal, especially in cases where surgery is necessary.

What are the most common injuries?

The most common injuries we treat are sprains, strains, and fractures.

Ankle Sprains

A sprain occurs when the outer, supportive ligaments of the ankle tear. The severity of an ankle sprain can range from a minor injury to so severe that the ligaments are completely torn, causing extreme pain and a loose feeling in the ankle.

Patients who experience recurrent sprains may suffer from weakened ligaments in the ankle, known as ankle instability. Repeated sprains may lead to more serious ankle problems, including bruised cartilage between the heel and the shin or bone spurs around the ankle. Eventually, these problems can cause foot and ankle arthritis.

Fractures

The ankle is made up of three bones, and the foot is made up of 26 bones. Fractures can occur in any of these bones, usually the result of trauma, such as falling from a height. Fractures are commonly seen in patients who participate in sports or who have weakened bones.

What are the causes?

Ankle and foot injuries are most commonly the result of trauma in patients who participate in sports or who have jobs that require physical strain. The most common causes of these injuries include:

  • Falling or landing improperly on the foot or ankle
  • Blow to the foot or ankle
  • Sudden twisting movement

What are the symptoms?

Because a severe sprain can often mask the symptoms of a fracture, every injury to the foot and ankle should be examined by a physician. Your injury may warrant a consultation with a MedStar Health physician if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising and tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on the injured foot or ankle
  • Lump or visible deformity

How are these injuries diagnosed?

Our orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing the full range of injuries. During an initial exam with one of our specialists, we will likely conduct the following:

  • Medical history evaluation: Your physician will ask you questions about your pain level, when the pain began, prior relevant injuries or health issues, and other medical information
  • Physical exam: Your ankle is examined to evaluate its structure and any abnormalities
  • Imaging testing: Often, X-rays, bone scans, CT scans, or MRI scans are needed to accurately diagnose your ankle injury

What are the best treatment options?

Treatment will vary based on the severity and location of your injury. Our orthopedists will examine your injury carefully, make recommendations for treatment, and closely monitor your healing process. Our physicians may recommend a combination of non-surgical and surgical treatment options, followed by physical therapy to rebuild strength and ease of movement in the foot or ankle. The following conservative treatment options may be recommended when injuries are minor:

  • Ice

  • Elevation

  • Rest

  • Pain medication

  • Splints or casts

In instances where conservative treatment options are unsuccessful or your injury has caused the bones in your foot or ankle to shift out of place, you may need surgery to restore the proper alignment. In these cases, our physicians may recommend one of the following advanced surgical options: