Ankle Fracture

An ankle fracture, commonly known as a broken ankle, involves any type of break or crack in the tibia, fibula, or talus. Common causes of an ankle fracture may include a sports injury, a motor vehicle accident or a fall. An ankle fracture can include injury to one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint. The more bones that are broken, the more complicated and severe the fracture is. Treatment for a broken ankle depends on the type and severity of the individual fracture, but may include wearing a cast or brace, applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medication. Stable fractures can usually heal on their own within a few weeks, while more complicated ones may require surgery to reposition the broken bone.

Symptoms of an Ankle Fracture

Individuals with an ankle fracture may experience difficulty walking or putting weight on the affected ankle. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Physical deformity

Because the ankle and foot may become very swollen, it may be difficult for some people with a broken ankle to put shoes on.

Diagnosis of an Ankle Fracture

An ankle fracture is diagnosed through a physical examination and diagnostic imaging tests that may include:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

A bone scan may also be performed to determine which parts of the bone have been damaged.

Treatment of an Ankle Fracture

Treatment for an ankle fracture varies depending on the type and severity of the individual fracture. Medication may be prescribed to control inflammation and treat pain. Resting, applying ice and elevating the ankle, are all methods that can contribute to the healing of the fracture. In most cases, a cast or brace will be used while the ankle heals. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reposition the broken bone.

Although the methods used to treat ankle fractures vary, rehabilitation is always necessary after the initial treatment, to restore full movement and mobility to the ankle and help the patient return to all usual activities. After the ankle bone has healed from the initial treatment for the fracture, and patients can bear weight on the joint, a physical therapy regimen is implemented to strengthen muscles and increase mobility. Without proper rehabilitation, complications such as chronic pain, inflammation and weakness, may cause difficulty walking and performing physical activities.

Shoulder Dislocation

A dislocation is is an injury to a joint in which the ends of the bones are forced from their normal positions. The shoulder is a "ball-and-socket" joint where the "ball" is the rounded top of the arm bone (humerus) and the "socket" is the cup (glenoid) of the shoulder blade. A layer of cartilage called the labrum cushions and deepens the socket. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the humerus pops out of its socket, either partially or completely. As the body's most mobile joint, able to move in many directions, the shoulder is most vulnerable to dislocation. A shoulder dislocation may be caused by a sports injury, trauma from a motor vehicle accident or a fall.

Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation

Dislocation causes pain and unsteadiness in the shoulder. The shoulder may be visibly deformed or look out of normal placement. Other symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may include:

  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Bruising

The muscles in the shoulder may spasm and cause tingling sensations in the neck and down the arm. Complications of a shoulder dislocation may also include muscle tears, tendon or ligament injuries, and blood vessel or nerve damage.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder dislocation is diagnosed through a physical examinatioJn and a review of symptoms. Additional diagnostic tests may include:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • Electromyography

The electromyography test is used to determine whether there is any nerve damage as a result of the shoulder dislocation.

Treatment of Shoulder Dislocation

In most cases, the dislocated shoulder can be manipulated back into place by a doctor in a process known as closed reduction. When the shoulder bone is back in place, severe pain normally subsides. The arm and shoulder are then immobilized in a special splint or sling for several weeks as the shoulder heals. Medication may also be prescribed for pain. A shoulder that is severely dislocated or in cases where surrounding ligaments or nerves have been damaged, surgery may be necessary to tighten stretched ligaments or reattach torn ones.

After treatment for a shoulder dislocation, when pain and swelling have subsided, physical therapy is recommended to restore the range of motion of the shoulder, strengthen the muscles, and prevent future dislocations. After treatment and recovery, a previously dislocated shoulder may remain more susceptible to reinjury, potentially resulting in chronic shoulder instability and weakness.

Ankle Dislocation

An ankle dislocation can occur when a significant amount of force is placed on the joint, resulting in an abnormal flexing that shifts the bones in the ankle from their normal positions. An ankle dislocation is often the result of a sports injury caused by physical contact or by quick pivots to change direction. Prompt medical attention to determine whether the blood supply to the foot has been compromised is essential.

The symptoms of a dislocated ankle typically include intense pain at the joint, which may radiate up the leg, and an inability to place weight on the associated foot. Swelling, tenderness and a sensation of numbness around the ankle are also common.

Treatment of an ankle dislocation generally begins with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) to help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the joint. A surgical procedure to reposition the bone and hold it in place with screws and plates may be necessary. The ankle is then put in a cast or boot to stabilize and protect it as it heals.

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