From sprains and strains to stress fractures and arthritis, ankle problems can come in many forms. And the result is excruciating pain that makes even getting out of bed a surmountable task.
We understand if you're tempted to take the wait-and-see approach when your ankle is bothering you, but ignoring what could be a serious problem only opens the door for more issues down the line.
Maurice Aiken, DPM, and our team here at Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle Specialists in Dunedin, Florida, are experts in foot and ankle health, and we know how to keep you from getting sidelined by ankle pain.
Here, we look closer at when your ankle pain has crossed over into needing medical attention.
Knowing when to go
Whether you're an elite athlete or a couch potato, no one is immune to twisting their ankle when they take an awkward step. A seemingly minor roll of your ankle can land you in a world of pain, followed closely by:
- Inability to bear weight
- Restricted range of motion
The most common acute ankle injuries are sprains and strains, especially in athletes. Sprains occur when an awkward movement stretches (or, in the worst case, tears) the ligaments in your ankle. Strains occur when a muscle or tendon stretches or tears.
Acute injuries respond well to the RICE protocol, but we still recommend that you have our team take a look. Handling a sprain or strain on your own jeopardizes healing and can turn your acute injury into a chronic condition.
Upwards of 40% of ankle sprains weaken the ankle so dramatically that your ankle remains insatiable long after the sprain has healed.
Chronic ankle problems
Unlike an acute ankle problem, it can be challenging to trace chronic ankle pain to a specific event or injury. But if your ankle is giving your trouble day in and day out, you shouldn't ignore it.
Some of the most common culprits of chronic ankle pain are:
- Chronic ankle instability
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Compression fractures are usually the result of an injury and require immediate care. Still, stress fractures can develop unbeknownst to you and become more and more painful the longer you leave them untreated.
In the case of arthritis and other degenerative conditions, the cartilage in your feet and ankles gradually wears away, leaving bone to rub against bone. Not only is this painful, but it can trigger swelling and mobility issues.
What can a podiatrist do for my ankle?
Dr. Aiken and our team are ankle experts with years of experience diagnosing the underlying cause of ankle pain. We discuss your symptoms and medical history in depth to get to the bottom of your ankle problems, and when appropriate, we order X-rays and other diagnostic tests.
Depending on what's causing your ankle pain and the severity of your symptoms, we can recommend the following:
- RICE protocol
- Topical treatments
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- A stretching or rehabilitation program
- Exercise or physical therapy
- Assistive device
- Custom orthotics and supportive footwear
- Erchonia® cold laser therapy.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
- Regenerative medicine (PRP, amnio Fluid Flow™, and stem cell therapy)
Don't let ankle pain fool you — it's likely more serious than it feels, and only a specialist like Dr. Aiken has the tools to help you recover quickly and fully. If you're bothered by ankle pain, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment online or over the phone today.