Why You Shouldn't Ignore a Sprained Ankle

You turned your ankle playing tennis, but you figured it was nothing to worry about and went on with your game. Bad move. You may have sprained your ankle, which is no trivial matter. 

Left untreated, a sprained ankle can lead to an unstable ankle, which is prone to more substantial injuries. Podiatrists Evan Breth, DPM, and Neha Khanna, DPM, of Progressive Podiatry know how to diagnose and treat sprained ankles, so your stumble doesn’t become a major problem.

What is a sprained ankle?

When you roll, turn, or twist your ankle in an unnatural way, you can stretch or tear ankle ligaments, the bands of tissue that hold your ankle bones together. 

Think of ligaments like rubber bands on the outer side of each ankle. These bands stabilize joints, so your foot doesn’t flop around. If you stretch or tear those bands, your foot and ankle lose support, which makes them vulnerable to more sprains, other ankle injuries, and ankle osteoarthritis. That’s why you shouldn’t ignore a sprained ankle.

The National Athletic Trainer’s Association estimates that 28,000 ankle injuries happen every day in the United States. Many of them are sprains, which, unfortunately, are commonly overlooked.

According to the International Ankle Consortium, a worldwide research group that studies sprains, half of all people who sustain a lateral ligament sprain don’t seek initial treatment.

What to do if you sprain your ankle

First, ask a medical professional to check your ankle. Instead of a sprain, it could be a bone fracture or a muscle strain.

If you can’t access medical help right away, take these steps (not literally, because walking can aggravate a sprain).

Rest

Don’t put any weight on your ankle for 48 hours. 

Ice

To control or reduce swelling, ice your ankle with a cold pack or in a slush bath ASAP. Continue to ice the injury for 15-20 minutes, 4-8 times a day for the first 48 hours or until the swelling goes down. Don’t overdo the icing, which can harm tissues.

Compression

Compress the area with an elastic bandage or neoprene sleeve, which helps decrease swelling.

Elevation

Raise your ankle above your heart to limit swelling.

When you visit Dr. Breth and Dr. Khanna, they X-ray your ankle and sometimes use ultrasound imaging to check your ligaments. When your injury heals and the inflammation subsides, you start treatments to repair tissue damage and strengthen connective tissues and muscles.

If you’ve injured your ankle, contact us at Progressive Podiatry here on our website to request an exam online, or call your most convenient location to book.

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