Unstable Ground

Over 23,000 ankle sprains occur daily in the United States. Many recover without pain or long-term consequences but nearly half do not seek treatment and many will reinjure the ankle leading to long term pain or instability in over half of those affected. While ankle mechanics can be affected due to increased ligament laxity on the outside of the ankle, some patients report nerve pain and changes in sensations around their ankle, even the ability to perceive where their ankle is in space. Damage may have occurred to the joint surfaces, nearby tendons and the bone underneath the joint. It is important that you see your doctor or podiatrist if painful or instability symptoms persist beyond a few days as failure to treat major ankle sprains contribute to arthritis.

Actions that may be considered by your doctor or podiatrist:

  • It is important that you are specific regarding the nature and location of your pain so that your doctor can better diagnose what has been damaged; your doctor may perform special tests or use local anesthetic to diagnose the site of injury
  • Imaging may be ordered including x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • A non-weight bearing period or partial weight bearing with bracing may be recommended
  • Pain control with ice, rest, elevation, and medication; most ankle sprains do not require any medication more potent than ibuprofen
  • Long term use of bracing may be appropriate to help ligaments and tendons heal
  • Tendon or ligament tears, joint damage or bone damage will most likely require surgery sooner rather than later
  • More and more surgical treatments are arthroscopic, providing quicker recovery and smaller incision sites
  • Treating old/chronic injuries may only result in improvement rather than full resolution of symptoms; be patient with your body while you heal

As half or more of ankle injuries result in long term symptoms when left untreated, it is important to treat all ankle sprains seriously and seek medical advice. These injuries take anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months to heal and re-injury is common. Remember to follow your doctor’s advice closely and protect your ankle from further damage.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.