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What You Should Know About a Dislocated Ankle

by James Lee on January 04, 2022

What is a dislocated ankle?

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center staff, an ankle that has become dislocated can occur then there's an “abnormal separation” between ankle joint bones as the result of an injury that tears at least one ankle ligament.

Ligaments hold bones in place, so their function is critical. Diagnoses of an ankle dislocation may require an ankle X ray to confirm the condition. Should you experience ankle pain for any reason, seek a medical diagnosis to make sure you don’t have a dislocated ankle or you could risk these complications:

dislocated ankle

  • Persistent or intermittent joint stiffness in the affected area

  • Infection – visible or not so much -- that can require antibiotics

  • The development of a chronic condition in the ankle area like arthritis

  • Blood vessel damage or a blood clot can develop if left untreated

  • Nerve damage is possible in the dislocation area that may not be detectable in an ankle X ray

  • Could exacerbate bone issues like osteoporosis

  • More serious conditions could develop in people who are older or fragile.

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What are the causes and risk factors?

What can trigger an ankle dislocation? Just about anything: a car accident, sports injury, condition that weakens ligaments (e.g., Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), a congenital defect, existing conditions that render bones weak and vulnerable, and in some instances, people who smoke and/or are obese can be diagnosed with this injury.

The science associated with this condition isn't very complicated. Three bones in your ankle joint contribute to this injury: the tibia, fibula, and talus. Each is essential for an ankle's balance and range of motion, especially when a foot moves up, down and side-to-side. Diagnoses usually result from the talus bone being pushed into an unnatural position and that stress is almost always the cause of the dislocation.

dislocated ankle

Risk factors may include a previous dislocation in the ankle, a particularly severe amount of abnormal bone separation and in extreme cases, a dislocation can be so severe, it can trigger a break or lead to more complicated ankle issues down the road.

It's important to treat an immediate dislocation to make sure complications don’t arise. Treatment may include the administration of splints or casts placed strategically to move the bones back into place. In extreme circumstances, surgery may be required.

 

What symptoms are associated with ankle dislocation?

This type of injury is more prevalent than ankle sprains, so if you think you’ve dislocated your ankle, look for these 7 symptoms:

1. An inability to put weight on foot you have injured

2. Severe and immediate pain following the dislocation

3. Problems moving your ankle in one or more directions

4. Noticeable swelling and bruising in the ankle area

5. Your ankle may look deformed or contorted

6. Soreness and tenderness when the ankle is touched

7. A bone protruding against or through the skin.

How to avoid suffering from a dislocated ankle

Being your own advocate is the first step you can take toward avoiding this type of injury. Among the steps you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Warming up prior to any type of physical activity ranging from jogging to competitive sports.

  • Condition your muscles so they are less vulnerable to risk. Cross training can be especially helpful.

  • Purchase athletic shoes that are made specifically for your foot type -- especially if you already have conditions that render your ankles vulnerable. You need good arch support, a stable heel and orthotics if they’re required.

  • Don’t keep wearing worn out athletic shoes past their prime. If you notice that the tread is worn, the shoe is stretched out or the material is fraying, time to shop for a new pair.

  • Don’t mistake a dislocated ankle for an ankle strain by skipping a medical diagnosis and assuming that rest, ice, compression, and elevation are adequate remedies, or you could compound your injury.

dislocated ankle

  • Try to avoid activities that involve moving around on uneven surfaces, especially if your ankles tend to be vulnerable or weak.

  • Don’t ignore pain or discomfort in the ankle area because you’re all about being tough and “pushing through”!

The best way to cut your ankle dislocation risk

Take preventative action by investing in affordable ankle compression sleeves. These lithe, comfortable sleeves and socks with four-way stretch offer optimal support with so many benefits, you may wonder why these products are so inexpensive.

Don’t settle for an inferior brand of ankle sleeves/socks. Cambivo has been recommended by doctors and physical therapists, but importantly, shoppers prefer the brand, too.

As a bonus, compression sleeves boost blood circulation and reduce lactic acid for fast post-activity recovery. Further, a wardrobe of these helpful accessories beats winding up with a huge hospital bill and serious down time any day of the week – especially if you rely upon daily activity to stay fit and active.

 

It’s your joint extremity. Insist on a thorough diagnosis

According to a synopsis of a book reviewed on the National Center for Biotechnology Information; U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI) website that deals explicitly with ankle dislocation, you may be surprised to learn that dislocated ankles don’t usually occur on their own.
dislocated ankle

Scientists say that it is “exceedingly rare” for an ankle dislocation to be classified as a single diagnosis. Statistically, this injury only represents about 0.065% of ankle injury cases. In an overwhelming number of diagnoses, ankle dislocations tend to trigger concomitant fractures.

Men overwhelmingly suffer ankle dislocations over women (72%) due to sporting accidents and car accidents. While the most serious cases occur when the fibular shaft locks behind the tibia bone, it’s not uncommon for what’s called a “Bosworth Fracture” to be missed by radiology staffers when they examine x-rays to determine the extent of a dislocated ankle. It's therefore incumbent upon you to ask for a second opinion.

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