The ankle joint (talocrural joint) is basically a “hinge” joint created by the ends of the two long bones of the lower leg (medial and lateral malleoli) and the talus (the second largest of the tarsus bones). This joint, that only allows for the movements of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion, has a complex relationship with the other tarsal and metatarsal bones of the foot and the joints that they comprise (subtalar, midtarsal, tarsometatarsal and metatarsal joints). The biomechanics of normal gait is dependent on a normal and stable ligament structure, appropriate muscle tension and normal joint position and integrity.
As part of a thorough evaluation of foot and ankle injuries, your therapist at RPT will perform an assessment of your gait and will specifically note what occurs at “heel strike”, when the foot hits the ground acting as a shock absorber, at “push off”, when the foot functions as a rigid lever to produce a significant force that propels your body forward, and the “swing phase”, when the foot is no longer in contact with the ground. Any disruption to the integrity of the supporting ligaments (sprains) or the muscle tendons and fascia (strains, tendonitis, fascitis) will typically lead to instability, pain, swelling and dysfunction.
When dealing with acute injuries like ankle sprains, one of the most common injuries seen in sports medicine, we typically implore the acronym of PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) which might be accompanied by non-weight-bearing or partial-weight-bearing.
The general goals at RPT are to manage the acute symptoms like pain and swelling, protect the patient from further injury and then look to restore normal range of motion, strength, proprioception and neuromuscular control. We focus on a functional progression with the ultimate goal of a “full return to activity”.
Photos of Foot and Ankle Treatment at Recovery PT (click to enlarge)