By Tina Beychok
The ankle structure, much like that of the wrist, is vital to certain movements of the human body. It is designed to move the foot from side to side or up and down for activities such as walking or running. It also serves as the attachment point between the bones of the foot and the bones of the lower leg.1
The ankles also have something else in common with the wrists; we tend not to notice them until they cause us pain. Whether it is a sudden injury (such as a sprained ankle) or an ongoing chronic condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis), very little will sideline an active patient more quickly than ankle pain. Fortunately, ankle pain can not only be reduced through instrument adjusting, but recurrences may even be reduced or eliminated altogether.
The ankle consists of three main bones: The lower tibia, or shin bone; the lower fibula (the thinner lower leg bone); and the talus, which sits above the heel bone. In to addition the bones, a number of joints and ligaments attach the foot to the ankle itself. The actual ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down, while the subtalular joint lets the ankle move from side to side.1
Common ankle injuries
Sprain: The most common ankle injury is a sprain, which happens when the ankle ligaments become stretched or torn. Most ankle sprains occur when the foot is turned inward. If the ligament that joins the tibia and fibula becomes injured, this is known as a high ankle sprain, and may take longer to heal than a standard sprain. The standard treatment is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.1,2
Ankle fracture: Although any one of the three ankle bones can fracture, this injury is most commonly seen in either the tibia or the fibula. If the ankle is at an odd angle and cannot bear weight, patients should seek immediate medical care.1,2
Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type to affect the ankles. However, patients may also suffer from osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis (as a result of the autoimmune skin condition psoriasis), gout, or septic arthritis due to a bacterial infection. The ankle will be red, swollen, and very tender to the touch. Patients should seek care if the condition does not resolve within two to three days or if they are running a fever.1,2
An article published in the January 2001 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics divided a group of 30 patients with ankle inversion sprains into two treatment groups. One group received ultrasound treatment, while the other received ankle mortise separation adjustments. At the end of four weeks, the adjustment group showed significant improvement over the ultrasound group in terms of pain reduction, ankle function, and ankle range of motion. The researchers concluded that the chiropractic adjustment was superior to ultrasound for treating ankle sprains.3
There is no reason for ankle problems to stop patients in their tracks. Proper chiropractic adjustments, along with home care and rehab exercises, will get them back on their feet (and ankles) in no time at all.
1WebMD LLC. Human anatomy: Ankle. WebMD.com. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/picture-of-the-ankle. Published 2012. Accessed 2014.
2Heller J. Ankle sprain — aftercare. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000574.htm. Updated 2012. Accessed 2014.
3Brantingham JW, Pellow JE. The efficacy of adjusting the ankle in the treatment of subacute and chronic grade I and grade II ankle inversion sprains. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001:24(1);17-24.