Sprained Ankle? When in Doubt Have it Checked Out!
At one time or another, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.” That’s a burden, for sure. But think about the weight your ankles must carry each and every day! On a good day, that’s a heavy load to bear. If you’re typical, though, your ankles will experience their share of not-so-good days. Ankle sprains are common among people of all ages and activity levels. Most people minimize ankle sprains and fail to seek medical evaluation or treatment. While rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is a reasonable course for minor sprains, recent research concludes that some sprains, if left untreated, can have life-long ramifications on your health.
Surveys’ Surprising Findings
In June, University of Kentucky researchers attending the National Athletic Trainers’ Association annual meeting presented the results of an online survey of more than 3,500 people. The survey asked people if they had ever suffered an ankle injury: more than half of the respondents said they had. Almost half of the group that reported past ankle injuries noted they experienced limited mobility in the course of their daily lives; only 36% of those that reported no ankle injuries reported mobility problems.
The results of three University of North Carolina studies yielded even more surprising results. Just one ankle sprain can upset your movement patterns, cause pain that lingers for years, and even cause you to walk less for the remainder of your life. In one of the three UNC studies, researchers tracked a group of 40 college students; half of whom reported significant ankle sprains in the past and half that reported no ankle problems. They outfitted the subjects with pedometers and found that those who had past ankle problems walked 2,000 fewer steps daily than those with no history of ankle sprains. The other two UNC studies were conducted on mice (researchers conducted surgeries to replicate the effect of ankle sprains on subjects’ ankle ligaments.) The bottom line, noted UNC associate professor Tricia Hubbard-Turner, who was involved in the studies, is this: “There is no such thing as just an ankle sprain.”
Early Intervention is Key to Full Recovery
If you sprain your ankle, even if you feel that no lasting damage has occurred, it’s in your best interest to have your ankle evaluated right away. Contact us at Greater Austin Orthopaedics; our team will determine if your sprain can be managed with the previously described RICE or calls for strengthening exercises, physical therapy, splinting, bracing, or, in rare cases, surgical intervention. The ankle, where the tibia and fibula meet the top of the foot, is a complex joint. When it is not 100%, your mobility will be affected. Loss of mobility can have a ripple effect leading to a laundry list of health problems. Ankle sprain? Don’t minimize it. When in doubt have one of our orthopedic doctors check it out!