Whether it’s a recent injury or an old one, an untreated ankle injury can mean problems down the line. The experienced ankle specialists at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, provide accurate diagnosis and customized treatment plans for patients with ankle injuries in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas.
Take a moment to protect your ankles by learning about common ankle injuries and the dangers that come when they aren’t addressed and treated.
What are ankle injuries?
To understand ankle injuries, it helps to review some ankle basics. Three major bones (fibula, talus, and tibia) make up the structure of your ankle along with the different ligaments and tendons that help it move.
These elements in your joint not only help it move, they work together to promote stability. Even small displacements with any part of your ankle can end in injury. The most common ankle injuries are strains, sprains, and fractures.
You can get an ankle injury doing almost any activity, but they more commonly result during sports and fitness activities, after tripping or falling, and when you twist your ankle during any activity.
Strains, sprains, and fractures can all have similar symptoms, making it difficult to tell which you have without a medical evaluation.
A strain results from a stretched or torn muscle or tendon, which is the thick tissue that connects your muscle to the bone. Strains range from minor to severe, and can sometimes result in a tear.
When you injure the ligaments in your ankle, you can end up with one of the three types of ankle sprains: Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III. Doctors rank the severity of the injury beginning with Grade I, which is the least severe and ending with Grade III, which is the most severe.
Ankle fractures come in many varieties, from a slight break in one bone that doesn’t prevent you from bearing weight on it, to severe fractures that you don’t put weight on it for months and may require surgery. A fracture may also damage your ligaments.
What are the dangers of an untreated ankle injury?
If you suffer from an ankle injury, it’s important to get an evaluation by a trained ankle specialist if your symptoms don’t improve within a day or two. Minor ankle injuries can heal with rest and proper home care.
Home care includes things like protecting the injured ankle, using crutches or other devices to help immobilize the joint, mild compression, elevation, and apply cold packs or ice for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours.
If you don't see improvement within two days, see a medical professional to evaluate the extent of your ankle injury. At Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers Ankle, your provider determines the nature and extent of your ankle injury through a physical evaluation and imaging studies (e.g., ultrasound, digital X-ray, MRI, CT scan) if required.
Untreated ankle strains and sprains
An untreated strain may affect your ability to stand and walk later, and it can increase your risk for future strains. Untreated sprains can lead to a chronically unstable ankle joint. This condition increases your chances of developing conditions, such as:
- Degenerative changes in your ankle joint
- Arthritis in your ankle
- Chronic inflammation
Untreated sprains may also make it feel as though your ankle is always about to give out. This instability increases your risk of re-injuring your ankle.
Untreated ankle fractures
Not getting proper treatment for ankle fractures can lead to serious and debilitating complications, including:
- High risk of developing infection
- Foot deformities that may impair walking
With any ankle injury, it’s important to have your ankle evaluated by trained ankle specialists to ensure you get the right diagnosis and care to get you back on your feet soon — without complications down the line.
For help with an ankle injury, contact the team at the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers office nearest you or request an appointment online now!