Has this ever happened to you?
You’re doing your normal exercise routine when suddenly, your ankle locks up and you feel pain and stiffness.
You’re frustrated because you can’t continue your exercise regimen as normal. So you have to stop, go home, and rest.
What’s going on? It could be a lot of things. However, most frequently the problem is “osteochondral lesions.”
This condition causes an injury to the talus and the nearby cartilage. The talus is a small bone that sits between your heel bone and your tibia and fibula.
For osteochondral lesions to develop in the first place, you typically have to experience a traumatic injury in your ankle. That means something like a severe ankle sprain.
Other conditions such as your age, osteoarthritis, bone spurs, nearby tissue impingement, other inflammatory diseases, tendinitis, congenital defects, or even improper footwear can exacerbate osteochondral lesions.
How Do You Diagnose Osteochondral Lesions?
While many medical conditions can be difficult to diagnose, this one is not hard at all. If your ankle joint is locking up, that’s a pretty clear sign you have osteochondral lesions.
Your doctor will use an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to look at your ankle and confirm that’s exactly what’s going on.
How Do You Treat Osteochondral Lesions?
Your doctor will more than likely start with non-surgical treatment, although surgery may become necessary later on.
To start, your doctor will probably recommend immobilizing your ankle for a time, and taking as much weight off of it as you can. You may be placed under the care of a physical therapist who then helps you slowly place more weight on your ankle until it returns to normal.
The cartilage and talus simply need time to heal. Physical therapy then strengthens the region so repeat injury doesn’t happen.
If you have a more severe lesion, or if non-surgical treatment doesn’t work (which happens), then your doctor may opt for surgery.
Surgery restores the shape and gliding movement of the talus so it no longer locks up. Removal of tissue and even bone grafting may occur in serious cases.
Going forward, you can put yourself in the best position for relief of this condition by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising daily, and stretching your ankle and calves. When you stretch doesn’t matter. It just matters that you stretch on a daily basis.
The good news is that you can make a full recovery from this condition. It may take a little time to get back to normal. But, you can definitely get there and avoid repeat injury by taking some simple steps.