Two Common Sports-Related Injuries

The ankle and the foot have 52 bones combined. There are also dozens of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Only the hand and wrist have more, coming in at 54 bones combined. When you consider the human body in adult form has 206 bones total, it's easy to see how complicated these anatomical structures are. The ankle and foot must carry the weight of the entire body, which leaves them even more susceptible to stress and injury. Here is a look at two common ankle sports injuries, one that is usually relatively minor and one that can be quite serious.   

Sprained Ankle

Virtually everyone has had a sprained ankle at some point in life, but what exactly is a sprain? A sprain occurs when you roll or twist your ankle and you hyperextend the ligaments, which are fibrous bands of tissue that support the seven primary ankle bones. These ligaments can stretch, get little tears, or even tear completely.

Any sport that requires jumping and running or contact with other players, such as basketball, puts you at risk of a sprained ankle. Most ankle sprains occur in the lower part of the ankle where it meets the foot, but you can also get a high ankle sprain, which affects the ligaments that meet the tibia and fibula, the lower leg bones.

For minor sprains, staying off of it as much as possible for a few days to a week or two, keeping it elevated, and using an over-the-counter pain reliever will suffice. For more severe sprains that severely stretched or tore the ligaments, your rest period will be longer. You may need to have it wrapped or even a cast put on to support the bones. Your doctor may recommend crutches as well. If the ligament was completely severed and refuses to heal with a cast and rest, you may require surgery, which can involve borrowing a tendon from another part of the body.

Ruptured Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is the tendon that runs along the back of the ankle from the heel to the lower calf muscle. This injury is common in sports like basketball and tennis that see a lot of jumping and quick pivoting. The weak spot in the Achilles tendon is a couple of inches above the heel, directly adjacent to the ankle bone and the part you can easily grab with your thumb and forefinger.

When the Achilles tendon ruptures, you will hear a popping noise and then feel intense pain. Unfortunately, this is an extremely unpleasant injury, and rest and over-the-counter pain medication aren't going to cut it. Surgery will be required to repair the tear. After that, several months of physical therapy will be needed to regain strength and range of motion.

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