ankle injury running
Foot Health

Ankle Injuries: When to Seek Medical Care

Whether from a simple slip on a walk or a forceful wrench during the big game, many of us have experienced a painful twisted ankle. Ankle injuries are a common occurrence among athletes at every level, but if not properly treated, an acute injury can become a chronic condition with ongoing pain and weakness. 

The first line of defense for any ankle injury is the well-known RICE approach (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). But what are the signs that an injured ankle needs professional attention? 

The Four Signs You Need to See a Doctor

April is Foot Health Awareness Month: Focus on Ankle Injury in Sports

“Ankle injuries are very common, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be serious,” said Dr. Schwartz “If you’re in any doubt, it’s a smart move to see a podiatrist so they can determine whether the injury is to the bone or to the soft tissue and create a treatment plan based on your specific injury.” 

An ankle injury may require an X-ray or other imaging study for a proper diagnosis. Treatment could range from a brace to help keep the ankle immobile while it heals to physical therapy or even surgery. Avoiding treatment for a serious ankle injury could result in long-term consequences.

“If you don’t treat an injury, it could lead to chronic weakness and instability in the ankle,” said Dr. Schwartz. “That could cause long-term pain and make you susceptible to re-injury.” 

To avoid future injuries, Dr. Schwartz, advises wearing the right footwear for your activity. Don’t hike in flip flops or play basketball in running shoes. If you’ve experienced a significant ankle injury in the past, talk to your podiatrist about a properly fitted brace that can help stabilize your ankle joint during sports and other activities. Always stretch well prior to a workout or sports, and try strengthening exercises such as the ones available on the American Podiatric Medical Association website at

“The bottom line is that an ankle injury can turn into a more serious condition if you ignore it,” said Dr. Schwartz “So if you’re in doubt, get it checked out.”

Colleen Schwartz, DPM, is a podiatrist at in Ames, IA. Visit to learn more about foot and ankle health or to find a podiatrist near you.

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