The ankle joint is a complex hinge joint joining the foot to the lower limb. It plays a key role in walking, running and jumping, and without a stable and pain-free ankle, these activities will be impaired. As the ankle is a weight-bearing structure, an injury to the joint or surrounding muscles and tendons will often causes an altered gait (walking) pattern. Even if this altered pattern is only for a short time, this will have an impact on the other muscles in the lower limb, often causing weakness and muscle imbalance which needs to be corrected.
A physiotherapist will assess the ankle to establish whether there is a problem with the joint or the muscles. It is important to assess walking pattern, balance, as well as muscles in the calf, thigh and around the pelvis which act to stabilise and control the lower limbs as we walk
- Correction of foot position if required
- Ultrasound to reduce swelling and enhance the healing process of ligaments and muscles
- Taping of the joint to stabilise and reduce pain
- A specific strengthening and stretching exercise programme to improve lower limb strength, range of movement and proprioception
Common types of injuries
- Achilles tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon at the back of the heel and lower leg, normally worse immediately on standing, and can be worse with walking, running etc.
- Instability – weakness of the muscles and ligaments around the ankle joint making it less stable and more susceptible to injury of not treated.
- Ligament sprain – damage to the ligamentous tissue that surrounds the joint which maintain stability.
- Fracture – fracture of the bones around the lower leg at the ankle.