Practically everyone sprains their ankle at least a few times in their life. Maybe it’s a trip on a step, a fall in the yard, or an injury on the sports field. While most ankle sprains are not serious and have little lasting effect in terms of ankle health, it is not at all uncommon for a sprain to lead to ongoing pain and other chronic problems.
What Is a Sprain?
Technically, an ankle sprain occurs when there is injury to the ligaments that help the ankle joint remain stable. Most commonly, these are the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, known as the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). With proper care and rest, the ligament has the ability to naturally repair itself over time.
But an ankle injury can easily affect other anatomy of the ankle that is slower to heal or that requires medical intervention. For instance, tears in the tendons, cartilage damage, or even bone chips and fractures may accompany an ankle sprain.
What Can Happen with an Untreated Ankle Sprain
Repeated or severe ankle sprains may lead to a chronically unstable ankle joint, which is prone to re-injury. In addition, the injury may lead to chronic tendon inflammation and impaired movement of the joint. Over time, arthritis may develop in the ankle joint.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Ankle Health
- If You’re in Pain, Stop – The first thing to do when twisting or spraining your ankle is to take the pressure off of it as soon as possible. Never “play through the pain” after an ankle injury.
- Immobilize the Ankle – Minimizing movement of the affected ankle joint increases your chances of having the ligaments to heal in a tight position. If there is other damage in the ankle, this also minimizes the risk of further injury.
- Seek Treatment Promptly – Most people don’t see a podiatrist every time they sprain their ankle. But keep in mind that even a mild sprain can have long-term consequences, especially if you’ve sprained that ankle several times in the past.
How Our Podiatrists Treat Ankle Sprains
When visiting a podiatrist in our office, your ankle will be fully evaluated to get a complete picture of the damage that occurred. Your podiatrist may order an Xray and/or an MRI to help with diagnosis. Once a complete workup of the injury is finished, you’ll be provided with a treatment plan. This may range from a fairly simple regimen of rest and ice/heat application to surgical intervention to repair bone or tissue damage.
You may also have some sessions of physical rehabilitation and at-home rehab exercises to strengthen the ankle. This rehab work, which may include balance exercises and regular stretches, can be especially important to restore health to the joint.
If you twisted or sprained your ankle, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our foot doctors for further evaluation and treatment.