I just Sprained my ankle!
Do I Need to See A Doctor for An Ankle Sprain?
Ankle sprains are simple injuries that can cause amazingly complex damage. These are common injuries, and many people assume they are not a big deal and simply take time to heal. Unfortunately, the ankle is actually a fairly complex joint and injuries to it can result in long-lasting problems. Many ERs, urgent care centres and family doctors are simply not equipped with the expertise needed to assess ankle injuries and the potential risk for long term instability and arthritis.
The ankle joint itself has ligaments (strong rubbery bands of tissue) on either side of the ankle, holding it in place. These ligaments resist the ankle’s ability to roll inward or outward. When someone forcibly turns the foot inward or outward, such as when stepping in a hole, off a curb, or during a basketball game, the ligaments around the ankle will become stretched. Fortunately, there is a lot of elasticity to these ligaments, and a certain amount of ‘give’ is allowed by the body. However, if the force on the ankle is strong enough, the ligaments will not be able to resist that strain and will begin to tear. If a significant amount of force is applied, or if the ankle ligaments are already weakened from a previous sprain, then the ligament will tear completely. In the worst cases, the injury force is strong enough to fracture the ankle bones around the ligament. The ligaments on the outer side of the ankle are weaker than the inner side and are far more prone to injury.
While many ankle sprains do eventually heal with rest, icing, and a simple brace, it is the long-term effects of the sprain that can be a bigger problem. Studies have shown that up to 70% of people with ankle sprains develop long term instability of the ankle, which can lead to further sprains, weakness, and loss of activity. Additionally, instability of the ankle leads to many of the cases of post-traumatic ankle arthritis. What that means is that a sprained ankle can lead to significant arthritis and pain in the long term, even if a fracture never occurred. How an ankle sprain is initially treated can go a long way towards ensuring that the ankle does not develop long term consequences of the injury. Only the simplest of sprains really benefit from simple rest, ice, and a simple brace. Most sprains need more substantial care with better identification of the entire injury, better immobilization techniques, and often physical therapy to ensure the ankle is strong and stable. Ankle sprains can also involve damage to other parts of the foot that often go undiagnosed, and these subtle injuries may require treatment as well.
The specialists at Indiana Podiatry Group are experienced in treating ankle sprains of all levels of severity. Whether you are an athlete looking to get back to your sport, or simply someone who took a bad step, we have you covered. Come see us first in the event you suffer an ankle sprain and help ensure the long-term health of your ankle so you can stay active.