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 www.apma.org/strengtheningexercises

“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 https://drcolleenschwartz.com in Ames, IA. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot and ankle health or to find a podiatrist near you.

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