All About Broken Ankles

Broken ankles are a serious injury that can lead to an inability to walk, function, and also cause a significant amount of pain. A broken ankle is actually a break in one of the three bones in your body that connect at the ankle joint, the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The tibia and fibula are your two primary leg bones that connect at the knee, which sit directly upon the talus bone. This is protected by a fibrous membrane that allows for movement in our ankle joint. A broken ankle is usually caused by the foot rolling under or twisting too far, causing one of these three bones to snap.

A broken ankle is different from an ankle sprain, which occurs when the ligaments are ripped or torn but no bones have been broken. However, a sprain can still be very severe, causing bruising in the foot and an inability to hold your own weight, much like a broken ankle would. If you cannot stand on your own weight and suspect that you have a broken ankle, the first thing to do would be to get an immediate x-ray to determine the severity of the break.

A common way to break your ankle is to roll over onto it with enough pressure to break the bones, usually done while engaging in exercise, sports, or some other physical activity. Another common cause is a fall or jump from a large height.

Broken ankles can cause severe pain, but immediate relief can come from elevating the feet above your head to reduce blood flow to the injured area. You can also apply ice packs to the ankles to help reduce the swelling, redness, inflammation, and pain. After these initial steps, getting a cast on and staying off your feet as much as possible will aid in the recovery of the broken ankle, because the less movement and stress the ankle has to endure, the more complete it will heal. A doctor can determine if surgery is needed in order to heal correctly. In these cases, an operation may be the only option to ensure the ability to walk properly again, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.

It is highly important to determine if surgery is needed early on, because a broken ankle can become much more severe than you realize. If not professionally treated, the broken ankle will inhibit your walking, daily functioning, and produce a large amount of pain, so the quicker you act, the better.

Effect of High-Heels on the Feet

Women have been wearing various kinds of high-heels for hundreds of years, mostly for aesthetic reasons. Shoes with heels make their wearer appear to be taller and to have longer and thinner legs, and change the wearer’s gait and posture. High-heels’ association with femininity have kept them popular over the years, but there are definite health problems caused by wearing high-heels too frequently.

High heels also limit the motion of the ankle joints as well when they are worn. The ankle is a very important joint in the body when it comes to walking. These joints have a great deal of weight put on them because of their location. This is why it is so important to keep them as healthy as possible. The main tendon in the ankle is the Achilles tendon. Studies have shown that wearing high heels often causes the calf muscle and Achilles tendon to shorten, and stiffens the Achilles tendon as well, which can cause problems when shoes without heels are worn.

By forcing the toes into a small toe box, and putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot, high-heels can cause or worsen many foot problems, such as corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis. 

Wearing high-heels regularly, especially very high ones, can have long term negative effects on many other parts of the body, as well as the feet. One of the most important joints in the entire body, the knees, can be affected by wearing high heels. Wearing high heels causes the knees to stay bent at all times. It also causes them to bend slightly inward as well. Many doctors believe that constantly walking like this is the reason that women are so much more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis later in life. High-heels also cause increased stress on the knees by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking.

The back may also be negatively affected by high heels because this shoe style causes the back to go out of alignment. This affects the spine’s ability to absorb shock, and can cause continued pain in the back if high heels are worn constantly. High-heels also compress the vertebrae of the lower back, and can cause overuse of the muscles in the lower back.

This is not to say that high heels should never be worn. They will not cause serious problems if they are worn only occasionally. However, they should not be worn every day in order to avoid long term physical health problems to the feet, knees, ankles and back.

What Are Ankle/Foot Orthotics?

Orthotics is a field that focuses on the manufacturing, design, and use of aids used to support or direct the proper function of weak limbs. Ankle-foot orthotics, also known as AFOs, are braces that are worn on the ankle that can encompass either some or all of the foot. AFOS are predominantly use to help treat diseases that weaken or affect the musculature of an affected area in order to strengthen and train the muscles properly. It can also be noted that tight muscles in need of lengthening or loosening can also benefit from AFOs.

When one initially thinks of diseases that affect the musculature often the ‘big names’ come to mind. This includes muscular dystrophy, polio, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. It’s rarely thought that a stroke or arthritis can also affect the musculature as well. Regardless of what trauma is affecting the musculature, however, there is a way to correct it. Orthotics help to control the range of motion, correct deformities, manage pain load and provide support by stabilizing walk. Podiatrists are consulted for all of these conditions whether it’s simply everyday pain, wasted musculature or those who ‘toe in’.

Before orthotic devices became modern devices, many polio victims wore metal braces from mid-thigh to the foot’s bottom. Many children ‘toed in’ wearing these metal braces. Design materials improved drastically and allow for new levels of functionality, comfort and even appearance. Many orthotics are derived from plastics and maintain an L shape, which is designed to fit inside a corrective shoe. These corrective shoes are available with built-up soles to help correct the gait or manage pain by sharing it with another area as the foot spreads during walking. In the past leather and fiberboard were used to provide rigidity that was needed for correction and support.

The podiatrist prescribes orthotics in an L shape since the foot moves on a hinge. If this hinge is not moving as it should, the muscles tighten up which reduces the foot’s flexibility. As we walk, the foot flexes as the muscles stretch. A brace or AFO supports the ankle and musculature during the foot’s flexing much as a knee brace would work. Corrective shoes are for those whose feet hit the ground backwards, causing arch problems and muscle tightness. Wedges and rocker bars on the heels correct the step to heel first and rock on the ball of the foot. This results in stronger ankles and a more relaxed musculature.

Appearance also counts, especially when intended for everyday day wear. L shaped orthotics are contoured to the calf and flesh colored, fitting into a dress shoe or sneaker. This makes corrective shoes more attractive than past models, allowing patients to wear these devices not only with greater comfort but with confidence as well.

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