Hiking Fresno: Ankle Injury Relief and Recovery Strategies From Orthopedic Specialists


Fresno has three national parks: Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park. There are hiking trails that range from easy walking trails to more difficult routes that bring hikers to high peaks with stunning views. While some trails are flat and problem-free, there are others where you might trip on a tree route or uneven terrain. 

Among hikers, ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries. They range from minor sprains to bad breaks. Our orthopedic specialists can help you better understand the types of injuries that occur in hikers and what you can do if you injure your ankle while hiking.

What Are the Most Common Ankle Injuries?

When you’re out hiking, there’s a lot that can go wrong. These are the four most common injuries.

Ankle Sprains

Sprains are ranked by severity. A first-degree sprain has ligaments that are stretched but not torn. If the ligaments are partially torn, it’s a second-degree sprain. This type can take six weeks to heal. Finally, severely torn ligaments take up to a year to fully heal, which is a third-degree ankle sprain.

Bone Fractures

A bone fracture occurs when the bones in the ankle joint develop fractures. These fractures may or may not need a cast. If you need a cast, the recovery time takes longer. It can take up to eight weeks for a bone to mend, but it often takes months to regain full range of motion.

Stress Fractures

Similar to bone fractures, a stress fracture involves a crack or fracture in the bone, but they’re slower to develop. They occur with overuse of the ankle. The stress of putting weight on the ankle again and again leads to fractures. Expect it to take six to eight weeks to heal.


Tendons connect muscles to the bones in a joint. If the tendons in an ankle joint become inflamed, it’s a painful condition known as tendonitis. Tendonitis usually eases within a month, but in severe cases, it may take half a year.

Any Ankle Injury Requires R*I*C*E

While you’re hiking, any ankle injury can become a major problem. If you’re unable to walk, you’ll need help getting back to your car. If you can put some weight on it, you could do more damage, so grab a stick to take some of the weight off that leg.

The anagram R*I*C*E is important. It stands for:

  • Rest – Avoid a lot of activity that puts weight on that ankle. If you have to walk, stick to even ground and use an assistive device like a cane or a walking cast that holds your ankle in place when you’re on your feet.
  • Ice – Place ice packs on your ankle every 20 minutes every couple of hours. Do this for 48 hours. After that, use the ice packs as needed to keep swelling and pain down.
  • Compression – Compression helps keep swelling down. Wrap an elastic bandage around your ankle during the day. Remove it only to sleep.
  • Elevation – When you’re not on your feet, keep your ankle elevated. Ideally, you want it above your heart. This also helps with swelling.

Some orthopedic specialists recommend moving to M*E*A*T to slowly rebuild strength and stability in your ankle joint as it heals. It stands for:

  • Movement – Flex your ankle gently while it heals to encourage tissue growth and cell regeneration. If you feel pain, do not push past that limit. 
  • Exercise – Pay attention to the healing process. As you can withstand more, you can move more. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Analgesia – Make sure you keep taking medications to manage inflammation and pain. If over-the-counter medications aren’t enough, talk to your doctor.
  • Therapy – Once your ankle feels better and you can put weight on it, work with a physical therapist to build strength and avoid reinjury.

Should You See a Doctor

Some ankle injuries don’t require medical care. Tendonitis often heals on its own if you follow the R*I*C*E method. However, you also need to know when to see a doctor. Sometimes, ankle pain is serious and needs medical care and a treatment plan created by an orthopedic specialist. 

  • If the pain worsens or isn’t improving, see a doctor.
  • If the ankle is very swollen, bruised, or seems to be misaligned, see a doctor.
  • If you cannot put any weight on the ankle, see a doctor.
  • If you experience numbness and tingling, see a doctor.
  • If over-the-counter medications are not controlling the pain, see a doctor.

During the medical exam, the doctor may manipulate your ankle to determine what movement you can and cannot withstand. The amount of bruising and swelling is analyzed. You’ll also answer questions about what you were doing when the injury occurred. X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs may be used to determine the extent of the damage to bones, ligaments, and tendons.

What Should You Expect During Treatment and Recovery?

Once the doctor has assessed the extent of the damage, you might be told to stick to Advil and Tylenol for pain and inflammation. If that’s not enough, you might get an injection of steroids to help with joint pain. Severe bone breaks may require surgery to pin bones back together. 

You may need a splint or cast. If you do need a cast, you have to sit still while the specialist wraps the strips to fully support your ankle. This cast will remain on you for weeks. A splint is similar, but you can take it off to adjust it. You’ll go for frequent X-rays to monitor the healing process.

If you are in a splint or cast, you’ll need crutches. If you’re given a walking boot, you’ll wear that when you’re walking around. It helps support the ankle for proper healing.

Most severe ankle injuries require physical therapy to build strength, improve flexibility, and improve range of motion. Depending on what led to the ankle injury, you might also need to work on balance skills.

Tips for Choosing an Orthopedic Specialist

Your doctor may refer you to a preferred orthopedic specialist, but you might find it’s not the best fit. It’s okay to seek out an orthopedic specialist who you’re comfortable with. Reviews help you find some of the different options in your area.

You also want to find an orthopedic specialist who offers a range of treatment options. At Premium Sports & Orthopedic, we offer the following services.

  • Ankle pain treatment
  • Doctor-supervised medical weight loss and fitness programs
  • EMS training to help build muscle faster
  • PRP injections that help with the healing of joints, ligaments, and tendons
  • Sports injury treatment
  • Stem cell therapy to help with joint, ligament, and tendon healing

By following these strategies from orthopedic specialists, you can effectively manage ankle pain, promote healing, and regain full function after an injury. Remember, early diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial for optimal recovery. If you experience any concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.

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