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Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano

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Healthy Ankles 


Tips for healthy ankles

Did you know that a sprained ankle is the most common orthopedic injury in the United States? It affects not only elite athletes, but “weekend warriors” too—not to mention ladies wearing high heels, flip-flops and other non-supportive shoes.

The ankle joint is formed where the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg meet the ankle bone in the foot, called the talus. Though the ankle joint is a hinge joint, similar to the knee and elbow, it also has the ability to rotate inward and outward.

The ankle’s structure makes it unique—and susceptible to injury. “The talus is thinner in the back than in the front, which makes the joint less stable when you are running or up on your toes,” says Dominique Nickson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the foot and ankle, on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.

When you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear one of the ligaments. “After an ankle sprain, the ligaments loosen and reinjury becomes more likely,” says Dr. Nickson. A history of ankle injury also may lead to osteoarthritis at an earlier age, in which the joint’s cartilage wears away and moving the ankle becomes painful.

Dr. Nickson shares these tips to protect your ankles:

  • When working out at the gym, add some exercises to your routine to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the ankle. Try balance boards and resistance bands.
  • When you play “cutting” sports such as tennis, soccer and basketball, which require quick direction changes, wear ankle braces or shoes with good ankle support to help prevent sprains.
  • Run only on smooth, level surfaces; avoid grass or fields that may have hidden ruts.
  • Don’t ignore an ankle sprain or try to “walk it off.”

Returning to normal activities without appropriate rehabilitation risks a more severe ankle injury in the future. “Follow the RICE plan: rest, ice, compression bandage and elevation,” Dr. Nickson says. If the pain worsens, or you are unable to put weight on the foot, see your doctor for an X-ray.

Get Back in the Game

If ankle pain is keeping you off your feet, it’s time to talk to your doctor. For a referral to an orthopedic surgeon on the Baylor Plano medical staff, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or visit