How to Keep a Sprained Ankle from Becoming Chronic Instability

When you get an ankle sprain, trying to “walk it off” may seem to work short term.

Have you ever sprained your ankle and gritted through the pain? Toughing it out or “walking it off” may seem like a good idea at the time, but you could end up paying for your bravado in the years ahead if you managed to damage your ankle ligaments.

The team of podiatric specialists at Premier Foot & Ankle of Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen, Mesquite, and Celina, Texas, routinely diagnose and treat ankle injuries. We also see patients with old sprains that were ignored at the time and who now suffer from ankle instability. Seeking help for your ankle sprain at the time of the injury is the best way to avoid years of issues down the road.

Ankle strains and ankle sprains

Every day, 25,000 people sprain their ankles in the United States, and a million people visit the ER each year for ankle injuries. Knowing when to seek medical attention can help you avoid serious, long-lasting injury.

A strain happens when you pull a muscle or a tendon. Usually, you’ll feel a hot burning sensation and a spasming cramp. A strain is normally less serious than a sprain, and it usually won’t result in excessive bruising or swelling. Unless the tendon tears, ruptures, or slips out of place, R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) can do wonders.

A sprain is an injury to a ligament caused by overextension. A mild sprain simply stretches the ligament, and R.I.C.E can be a sufficient treatment here, too. However, for moderate or severe sprains, the ligament may have a partial or full tear. Not getting proper treatment for a torn ligament can cause chronic ankle instability, as the joint will continually be reinjured.

The correct treatment for ankle sprains

You should go see a doctor if you sprain your ankle and you experience any pain after ten or fifteen minutes have passed. Any trouble walking indicates that there may have been damage to the ligament. If the ankle starts to swell or bruise, these are more red flags that you’ve had a more serious injury than just a strain.

Don’t panic, though. A torn ligament in the ankle doesn’t automatically mean surgery. Many partial and even full tears can be fully healed if the ankle is properly immobilized and precautions are taken to avoid reinjury. 

A cast-boot or short leg cast can provide stability and protection for the 6 to 8 weeks it can take to heal a severe sprain injury. Then the joint can be rehabilitated to restore full strength and mobility. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or laser MLS therapy can also be used to help promote healing. 

By seeking help as soon as possible, you can keep a sprained ankle from becoming a chronic instability. If you have an old ankle injury that is causing you problems, contact one of our nine locations in and around the Dallas area, and make an appointment today.

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