Handling a Dislocated Ankle

Ankle Dislocation

The ankle joint helps one’s foot move up and down. The bones are held in place by a series of strong ligaments. When there’s an ankle dislocation, it means that the ligaments have been torn and there’s a separation between the bones. The three ankle bones are tibia, fibula, and metatarsals. It’s a painful process that limits mobility and can be damaging to an athlete’s career. It creates a temporary lapse in their physical fitness schedule, and in extreme cases could even mean the end of one’s career. To a specialist practicing sports medicine in New York, each of these cases will require a unique diagnosis and treatment.


An ankle dislocation generally occurs when excessive force is exerted to the anterior, posterior and/or side of the foot. During sports, dislocations could arise from a myriad of causes such as the impact of a player’s foot on the opponent’s foot, hitting the ball at an awkward angle, or twisting the foot. Taking a sudden turn during a race can also contribute to a serious ankle dislocation, especially with professional athletes. Some of the leading symptoms of ankle dislocation include difficulty walking, severe pain at the ankle joint, pronounced numbness due to blood obstruction, and the skin around the ankle may feel warm. In some cases, there could be bruises, swelling, and inflammation at the ankle joint.


A podiatrist is a medical specialist that deals with foot injuries, fractures, and other foot-related complications. To establish the extent of the ankle injury, preliminary actions that a podiatrist might take include physical examinations, (especially with severe symptoms like pain and difficulty in walking), checking one’s medical history, an MRI scan, and a CT scan. Specialized devices are used to give insight and generate detailed reports on the extent of injuries on transverse sections of the ankle.

CT scan

A brief assessment of one’s medical history will reveal any complications that might be present on the bones, ligaments or nerves in the ankle region. Using a computer interface, a radiologist will develop a scan of the ankle connected to computer tomography (CT) X-ray machine. This noninvasive procedure uses a beam of electromagnetic waves directed at the target organ or tissue.

MRI scan

Magnetic resonance and imaging (MRI), as the name suggests, is a painless procedure that combines powerful magnetic rays to computer platforms creating an interface to view the impact of the dislocation. MRI scanners are very simple to manipulate, as they do not require any preparation. They only need an intravenous injection to improve the visual aspects of the image. The patient is expected to stay still during the entire procedure to prevent distortion of the image.


Treatment should be administered immediately after the diagnosis has been concluded. A radiologist report helps the podiatrist come up with the best procedure for setting the bones straight. If the patient is to be transferred for treatment, it’s advisable that the foot is conditioned to rest in ice under compression at an elevated ankle. The two most common treatments include R.I.C.E and rehabilitation.

In rehabilitation, the patient will be expected to follow a systematic treatment, which includes carrying weights on the injured leg, while being supported by crutches for the first 5 weeks.

R.I.C.E stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Simply put, the ankle should be allowed ample rest, a daily dip in ice for 15 minutes, holding it securely at an elevated angle, and other progressive exercises.

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