Having healthy ankles is like having good tires for your car. When your ankle goes bad, getting around can be difficult. The same is true for the rest of your joints, including hips, knees and the spine. These bones make up the structure of your body to help carry you from one place to the next.
Ankles are vulnerable to sprains, fractures and arthritis that can immobilize and restrict you from doing everyday activities and things you love, including hiking, running or even playing with your grandchildren in the backyard.
There are three bones in the ankle: the tibia, fibula and talus. And with every step you take the more pressure you put on those bones.
It is recommended that the average person take 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, trekking about 115,000 miles during their lifespan. That mileage adds up, says Adam Baker, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Aspire Orthopedic Institute. “Constant daily pressure and the rubbing together of ankle joints can weaken your bones and lead to arthritis that causes swelling and pain in your feet and ankles. Arthritis can make walking and everyday tasks painful.”
When the pain is too much, there’s an increase in swelling or a large reduction in range of motion, it’s probably time to see an orthopedic specialist.
At Adventist Medical Center, the vast majority of foot and ankle patients don’t need surgery. Orthopedic surgeons at Aspire Orthopedic Institute start with other options for healing and recovery, including changes in diet, activity, bracing and lifestyle.
There’s a lot you can do to keep your ankles healthy and pain free. But if you do get stranded on the side of the road with a bum ankle, our foot and ankle experts are always here to help you get moving like you used to.
- Work toward a healthy body weight. Being overweight above the belt puts more pressure on your ankles and the lower half of your body. A healthier body weight could extend the life of your ankles and other joints and help slow the progression of arthritis.
- Check your shoes. Ill-fitting shoes can cause foot and ankle problems that are annoying and painful. Once you have the appropriate size, make sure your shoes have proper cushioning and support. Avoid wearing high heels every day, and when you do, stay away from heels exceeding one inch. Flats and sandals can also lead to foot and ankle problems, so look for shoes with arch support and cushioning.
- Walk your way to better ankles and feet. Walking and exercise can help keep your bones and joints strong while increasing circulation to the feet. Make sure you wear athletic shoes that fit well, offer the support you need and are appropriate for the type of activity you are engaging in.
- Improve your balance. If you have shaky, unstable ankles, your balance may be off. Try standing on one leg at a time to improve balance and increase ankle strength. Yoga, band exercises and other forms of conditioning can also improve ankle health.
- Fight inflammation with food. When eaten consistently, certain foods have vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help fight inflammation and ease arthritis pain in the body. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products and whole grains into your diet. Check out this article for more information on inflammation-fighting foods.
Author: LivingWell PDX Blog
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