With the NFL regular season beginning this week and college classes recently beginning, Buckeyes, Browns and Bengals fans will be on their toes at the first sign of any serious football foot injuries. Ankle injuries including ankle sprains and ankle fractures are two of the most common athletic injuries. This year, Cincinnati Bengal center Kyle Cook has already been placed on injured reserve following an injury to his right foot and ankle. While this injury may allow Cook to potentially return to the field this year, coaches and medical staff for the Bengals are certainly on the lookout for an injury to the lower bone of the ankle known as an osteochondral defect.
Osteochondral defect, or osteochondritis dissecans, is an injury to the cartilage and often underlying bone of a joint. While these injuries most commonly occur in the knee, they also occur in the ankle in up to 50% of acute ankle fractures and ankle sprains. In order for the ankle to function at its optimal level, as is definitely required for a professional athlete, the cartilage of the talus, which is the lower bone of the ankle joint, must be smooth and intact. When an injury tears at the smooth cartilage of the talus, pain, locking and clicking sensations and loss of range of motion occur in the ankle. In patients with chronic ankle pain after a previous ankle injury has been treated or ankle pain without previous trauma, these injuries should be evaluated by your podiatrist as a possible diagnosis. Following an ankle sprain or fracture, osteochondral defects may not appear on x-ray. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, or direct visualization of the joint through arthroscopy may be necessary.
Luckily, with the thorough and prompt treatment professional athletes such as Kyle Cook receive, osteochondral defects of the talus can be identified rapidly. Early treatment will lessen the likelihood of lasting problems and loss of function of this important joint that is subject to more load per unit of area than any other joint in the body. Depending on the severity of the cartilage injury, the ankle may need to be immobilized or operated upon. Studies in recent years have shown that following surgery for osteochondral defects of the talus in elite athletes, almost all individuals were able to return to their normal activity level in four to five months and continue participating in the activities they enjoy!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.