How to Keep a Sprained Ankle from Becoming a Chronic Instability

“Oh, I didn’t twist it that bad…”

That’s something we often hear as orthopedic specialists, but the truth is, no matter how slight an ankle sprain, there’s still potential for long-term injury and instability. 

You wouldn’t let a head cold go untreated — give your ankles the same care and visit Dr. Leah Brown here at Urgently Ortho when you’ve sprained your ankle. Otherwise, you could be looking at a lifelong struggle with inflexibility and chronic pain. 

How do you sprain your ankle? 

You can sprain your ankle doing just about anything — even while merely walking if you catch your foot on a ledge and twist your ankle. However, most people sprain their ankles while doing some sort of recreational activity, such as hiking or rollerblading, or while playing a sport. 

You may have referred to a sprained ankle as a “twisted” ankle or a “rolled” ankle, and you wouldn’t be wrong for using those terms interchangeably. When you sprain your ankle, your ligaments get stretched too far because they were suddenly twisted or pulled sideways. 

Symptoms of a sprained ankle

The first sign of a sprained ankle is simple: pain. 

Right after an injury, you’ll likely feel mild-to-severe discomfort, and you may have trouble walking. Pain from a sprained ankle is usually persistent — it won’t just go away on its own in a few hours or by the next day. 

Other symptoms of a sprained ankle include: 

The severity of your symptoms depends on the severity of the sprain, but generally, an ankle sprain leads to discomfort that restricts your basic ability to walk. 

What happens if you don’t treat a sprained ankle? 

With any injury — even a minor one — you stand the risk of long-term complications if you don’t treat it properly. A sprained ankle can turn into a serious chronic instability if left untreated. When you leave torn ligaments to heal on their own, they can fuse together haphazardly and form weak, inflexible scar tissue. 

Your range of motion can suffer tremendously, resulting in difficulty walking for the long term. You may also end up with chronic inflammation as your body continuously attempts to heal an injury that was never properly treated. Additionally, you may experience low-grade chronic pain. 

How to keep your sprained ankle from becoming worse

First things first: PRICE. The PRICE method should be the first line of defense against an ankle sprain, and it’s something you can do at home while you make a doctor’s appointment for an evaluation: 

After you’ve taken these cautionary tactics, contact Urgently Ortho, or just come in to the clinic, so Dr. Brown can take a look at your sprain. She’ll assess your pain, ask you how you twisted your ankle, and develop a treatment plan for you. 

It’s important to rest your ankle and keep it stabilized. Dr. Brown may also prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medicine and give you a brace, depending on how severe your sprain is. 

Icing your ankle at home and wrapping it in a compression bandage can reduce fluid retention and swelling. 

If you live in or around Scottsdale, Arizona, and think you may have sprained your ankle, call Urgently Ortho right away or request an appointment online. We’re open seven days a week, and we welcome walk-ins. 

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