Should I See A Podiatrist About My Sprained Ankle?

by | Apr 14, 2021

Ankle sprains are probably the most common traumatic foot and ankle injury. Millions occur nationwide each year to people of all ages and activity levels—from youth athletes losing their footing to dog walkers taking an awkward step off a curb.

 Sprains are so common, in fact, that they’re often underestimated. Many, if not most, people who sprain their ankle don’t seek professional treatment, or at least not right away. But that’s often a mistake.

 If you believe you may have twisted or sprained your ankle, we strongly encourage you to call the foot and ankle sports injury experts at Waco Foot & Ankle. While it’s true that many mild and even moderate sprains can be treated at home, it’s extremely important to ensure that you provide the proper care at the proper time. Failure to do so can lead to lasting consequences for the health of your ankle.

 

Doctor examining patient's foot

 

What Is an Ankle Sprain, Exactly?

 

For most people, an ankle sprain is a “you know it when you feel it” type of injury. The pain is usually felt immediately, right after an unexpected fall, collision, roll, or twist in your ankle.

 Under the surface, what’s happened is that one or more of the ligaments supporting your ankle joint has been stretched or torn. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones together, so a stretched or torn ligament can not only be painful, but can also leave a joint feeling weak or unstable.

 Because there are several ligaments supporting the ankle joint, the symptoms of a sprain can vary significantly depending on which ligament (or ligaments) have been injured, and how severely they are torn. While mild sprains might only result in mild pain and tenderness, severe sprains can cause significant instability and severe pain, making it difficult or impossible to bear weight on the affected foot.

 Mild sprains, as you might imagine, are the ones that tend to get underestimated by the general population. So even if your symptoms seem to be fairly mild, you should still definitely give us a call to get our input if you suspect a sprain. We may recommend you come in as soon as possible for an evaluation, or just tell you to keep an eye on it for a few days—but either way, it’s best to know what to do sooner rather than later.

 

What Can Happen if I Don’t Treat My Ankle Sprain?

 

Basically, the problem with underestimating ankle sprains—even mild ones—is that it can set you down a path of repeated injury and worsening joint function.

 One of the biggest risk factors for ankle sprains is whether you’ve already had one. That’s true even if you control for the fact that people who suffer sprains tend to be more active in general.

 The simple explanation is that, if the injured ligament is not fully healed and rehabilitated before you return to full activity, it’s going to be weaker and looser than it should be. That in turn leads to a greater risk of more sprains in the future, and in severe cases, you may find that your ankle feels permanently wobbly or unstable. Untreated sprains can also hasten the development of ankle arthritis.

 Again, that’s not to say every ankle sprain needs aggressive treatment or surgery. That definitely isn’t true! Many ankle sprains respond well to simple treatments. But it’s still very important to be disciplined about your treatment protocol. The last thing you want is for a careless mistake or a slightly-too-soon return to activity to turn a minor sprain into a major long-term issue!

Female foot with ankle pain

 

Why Should I Choose a Podiatrist?

 

Podiatrists are doctors who work exclusively with feet and ankles. We spend 4 years in podiatric medical school, perform 2-4 years of residency training, and dedicate 100% of our professional work to feet and ankles.

 So in other words, we have a lot of experience diagnosing and treating ankle sprains and understanding how sprains can be caused by (and further affect) other aspects of your feet and ankles. Certainly more so than your GP or urgent care physician is likely to have. (Nothing against these professionals, of course!)

 We also frequently have same-day and next-day appointments available, and will definitely prioritize urgent needs such as sprains. So consider making us your first call, after you’ve gotten off your feet.

 

Comprehensive Care and Guidance for Ankle Sprains at Waco Foot & Ankle

 

From minor to major sprains, our foot and ankle sports injury experts excel at helping athletes of all ability levels recover quickly and completely from their injuries, so they can get back to doing what they love most.

 As we’ve already mentioned, many ankle sprains really only require disciplined care at home. This typically takes the form of RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) in the first few days to control pain and swelling, then slowly beginning appropriate physical therapy exercises to re-strengthen your ankle. Follow our timetables and guidelines carefully to avoid accidental setbacks.

 However, people dealing with more severe sprains—or who just want a shorter road to recovery—may require a more aggressive approach. We are proud to provide state-of-the-art treatments such as laser therapy, stem cell therapy, and platelet-rich plasma therapy, which have shown great success in helping the body accelerate the healing process. When incorporated into a comprehensive ankle sprain treatment plan, choosing one of these advanced therapies may be able to shorten your overall recovery timeline by several weeks.

 Surgery is a possibility for ligaments that are severely torn, as well as restabilizing ankles that have become permanently “wobbly” or chronically painful. Our preference, however, is to avoid surgery whenever possible. If it’s a consideration for you, we’ll carefully walk you through your options and what to expect from the procedure.

 Not to sound like a broken record here, but we’ll say it one more time: don’t let a minor sprain become a major problem! To request your appointment with Waco Foot & Ankle, complete our contact form or give us a call at (254) 776-6995.

 

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