Ankle injuries are common and can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Ankle braces provide stability, compression, and protection to the ankle joint, aiding in pain relief, promoting healing, and preventing further damage. In this guide, we enlisted common ankle injuries. As well as this, we will also explore the benefits and mechanisms of ankle braces in managing ankle injuries, helping individuals make informed decisions about their use. Discover how ankle braces can support your recovery and get you back on your feet.
Common ankle injuries
Below is the list of common ankle injuries:
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle joint are stretched or torn. This often happens due to a sudden twisting or rolling motion of the foot, such as landing awkwardly from a jump or stepping on an uneven surface. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot.
An ankle fracture refers to a broken bone in the ankle joint. It can involve the tibia (shinbone), fibula (smaller bone in the lower leg), or talus (bone in the foot). Fractures can occur from trauma, such as a fall or direct blow to the ankle, or from excessive force applied during activities like sports. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, deformity, inability to bear weight, and sometimes an audible snap or crack at the time of injury.
Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is often caused by overuse, repetitive strain, or intense physical activity without proper warm-up or conditioning. Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the back of the ankle, stiffness, and swelling. There may be discomfort with activities like running or jumping.
Achilles Tendon Rupture
An Achilles tendon rupture refers to a complete tear of the Achilles tendon, usually occurring during activities that involve a sudden and forceful push-off of the foot. It can happen during sports that require quick acceleration or changes in direction. The injury is often associated with a popping sound, immediate pain, swelling, difficulty walking or standing on tiptoes, and a visible gap at the back of the ankle.
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High Ankle Sprain
A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic sprain, involves injury to the ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula bones above the ankle joint. It typically occurs when the foot is forcefully twisted outward, such as in sports like football or skiing. High ankle sprains tend to cause pain, swelling, instability, and difficulty bearing weight. The area just above the ankle may be tender to touch.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by compression or entrapment of the tibial nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel behind the inner ankle bone. It can result from conditions like flat feet, ankle sprains, or repetitive activities that cause strain in the area. Symptoms include pain, burning or tingling sensation, numbness, and weakness in the ankle or foot.
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Peroneal tendons are located on the outer side of the ankle and help stabilize the foot. Tendonitis in these tendons can develop from overuse, repetitive activities, or a sudden increase in physical activity. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness behind the outer ankle, and a feeling of instability. There may be discomfort with activities that involve ankle movements or prolonged standing.
An osteochondral lesion refers to a localized area of damage to the cartilage and underlying bone within the ankle joint. It can be caused by an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain with a severe twist, or by chronic conditions like osteoarthritis. Symptoms vary but often include pain, swelling, stiffness, locking or catching sensation in the ankle, and limited range of motion.
Ankle impingement occurs when there is excessive friction or pinching of soft tissues within the ankle joint, usually due to repetitive motion or a previous injury. It can cause pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the ankle.
Ankle bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and reduce friction between tendons, bones, and soft tissues in the ankle joint. It can occur due to repetitive motion, excessive pressure, or direct trauma to the ankle. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the affected area. Movement or pressure on the ankle may exacerbate the pain.
How do ankle braces help manage ankle injuries?
Ankle braces offer several potential benefits in managing ankle injuries. Here are some ways ankle braces can help and the mechanisms through which they work:
Stability and Support
Ankle braces are designed to provide stability and support to the ankle joint. They help limit excessive movement, preventing further injury and protecting the affected structures. By immobilizing or restricting certain movements, braces reduce the risk of re-injury and promote healing.
Compression and Swelling Reduction
Many ankle braces offer compression around the ankle joint. Compression helps reduce swelling by improving blood circulation and preventing the buildup of excess fluid in the injured area. By reducing swelling, ankle braces can alleviate pain and discomfort, allowing for improved mobility and faster recovery.
These supports can enhance proprioception, which is the body’s ability to sense the position and movement of its joints. Ankle injuries, such as sprains, can disrupt proprioceptive feedback. Ankle Support with features like straps, laces, or rigid supports provide sensory input to the ankle joint, improving proprioception. This, in turn, helps with balance, coordination, and stability, reducing the risk of further injury.
Joint Alignment and Protection
Ankle braces help maintain proper alignment of the ankle joint, particularly in cases of fractures or ligament injuries. They provide external support to keep the bones and ligaments in their correct positions, reducing the risk of misalignment or displacement. By protecting the injured structures, braces can promote healing and prevent additional damage.
Ankle braces can help alleviate pain associated with ankle injuries. They provide gentle compression and support, which can help reduce discomfort and inflammation. By stabilizing the ankle joint and limiting movements that may trigger pain, braces can improve overall comfort and enable individuals to engage in activities with less pain.
Wearing an ankle brace can instil a sense of psychological confidence and reassurance. The added support and stability can help individuals feel more secure during movement and activities, allowing them to regain their confidence and resume their daily or athletic pursuits.