As Philadelphia area foot and ankle specialists, we see many, many sprains each year. And, while frequently these injuries can be healed with a bit of time and care, many times ankle sprains are more serious and complications arise.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle joint is twisted unnaturally and the ligaments are damaged. This can happen in sports or when you are simply walking on uneven ground or step down with too much force unexpectedly.
Because of the common nature and increased frequency of this injury, many people just shake it off and think it will heal on its own. This is a big mistake, as many complications can occur and your “sprain” becomes much more serious than it needs to be. These complications occur when:
- You do not get a proper diagnosis and the injury is more serious than you thought.
- You do not give the ankle the healing time it needs and go back to activities too soon.
- You have repeated sprains on the same ankle.
The Most Common Complications of Ankle Sprains Include:
- Chronic pain: Once your ligaments are stretched or torn, they need about eight weeks to be fully healed and are pain free. But other problems might go undiagnosed, like a bone fracture, tear in the cartilage, nerve damage or a torn tendon. Delaying treatment of these other conditions leads to continued pain, weakness//giving way and disruption of your normal daily activities.
- Instability of the ankle joint: Sometimes an ankle sprain can heal incorrectly, leaving your ligaments permanently stretched. This will, in turn, cause your ankle to be weak and instable, frequently resulting in abnormal movement. If this happens, you will be much more likely to sprain again and experience swelling and pain long after you should have healed.
- Stiffness: Another complication of ankle sprains is stiffness. This usually happens because of severe inflammation swelling at the site of the injury and scar tissue. Stiffness most often results in pain and even osteoarthritis.
- Swelling: When the ankle does not heal properly, localized swelling can occur. This results in limited range of motion and an inability to participate in your usual routines. You may or may not experience pain with this complication.
- Early onset arthritis in the ankle joint: When your ankle takes a longer than normal time to heal and you can’t seem to shake the injury off, you may be suffering from arthritis.
Don’t Take Any Chances With Your Sprain
What do all these complications have in common? They are preventable! It is essential that you seek medical treatment for any ankle sprain, no matter how minor you may think it is. Only a quick, complete diagnosis and early treatment can prevent more problems down the road. Many times a “sprain” is misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed.
We urge you to call Philadelphia area Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates immediately when you sprain an ankle. By doing so you can avoid a costly, painful and potentially chronic complications. We are conveniently located in Media (610-565-3668) and Phoenixville (610-933-8644).