Ankle Pain

Ankle Injuries

Article by John Miller

Ankle Injury Information

Your ankle muscles and tendons dynamically control, move and protect your ankle joint. In simple terms, your muscles move your foot and stabilise your ankle joint to avoid you overstretching your ligaments. Unfortunately, when your muscles lose control or are not quick enough, your ligaments are not protected, resulting in overstretched ligaments (ankle sprain) or complete ligament rupture. Ouch, that hurts!

However, there are many other types of ankle injuries besides a sprained ankle, and we categorise them by the kind of tissue injured, e.g. bone (fracture), ligament (sprained ankle), muscle (strain or tear), or tendon (tendinopathy or tendonitis).

Ankle pain can arise from traumatic ankle ligament sprains or ankle fractures (broken bones). Plus, ankle pain can be more subtle in origin. Tendinopathies, degenerative arthritis and biomechanical disorders can develop ankle pain over time.

There are a lot of ankle injuries – not just sprained ankles. It is essential to accurately diagnose what is wrong with your ankle to ensure that both your short and long-term treatment achieve your goals as soon as possible.

Your Ankle Ligaments

Your ankle joint, which is known as the talocrural joint, is made up of three bones. Your tibia (shin bone; inside ankle bone), fibula (outer lower leg bone; outside ankle bone), and your talus (deep ankle bone). Beneath your talocrural joint lies the subtalar joint, articulating the talus and the calcaneus (heel bone). This forgotten joint is overlooked frequently during assessment, diagnosis and rehabilitation.

Your ankle ligaments attach bone-to-bone. They passively limit the motion available at each joint.

ankle ligaments

Outside of the ankle are the lateral ligaments.  These ligaments are the most frequently injured in a lower ankle sprain. These include the:

  • anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL)
  • calcaneofibular ligament (CFL)
  • posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL)

The main medial (inside of the ankle) ligament is the much stronger deltoid ligament.

High ankle sprains involve the inferior tibiofibular ligament and syndesmosis. These are more disabling ankle injuries. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is common.

For specific advice regarding your ankle injury, please visit one of the particular ankle injury information pages on this website, or arrange a consultation with one of our ankle physiotherapists.

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