An NIH report found that acute ankle sprains are one of the nation’s top musculoskeletal injuries, accounting for approximately 2 million cases evaluated at an ER. Not everyone goes to the hospital for an ankle injury. Some may see their doctor or tough it out. People often associate this injury with strenuous activity, such as playing sports, but that’s not always the case.
You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer an ankle injury. In 2020, there were over 1.176 million non-fatal work-related injuries requiring time away from work, and 66,650 of them involved the ankle. That’s just injuries that involve time off of work. In total, more than 2.8 million workplace injuries occurred.
What’s important with any ankle injury is that you see a doctor ASAP. While taking it easy can be good advice, there could be damage that needs medical attention. Learn more about common ankle injuries and why it’s important to seek medical care.
Common Ankle Injuries and Recovery Times
What are the most common ankle injuries in the workplace, at home, or during sports? There are four of them.
A strained ankle occurs when the muscles and tendons surrounding the ankle joint stretch farther than they should. Pain and muscle spasms are key symptoms, though there may be mild swelling, too. R (rest), I (ice), C (compression), and E (elevation) are often recommended to help heal a strain.
If the pain keeps you from putting weight on your ankle, see a doctor. If the pain isn’t too bad, you might be able to wrap your ankle and take it easy, but that’s a risky move. Given the similarities between a strain and a first-degree ankle sprain, it’s better to go to a Fresno ankle specialist and have the injury properly diagnosed.
Ankle sprains involve stretched or torn ligaments that connect the ankle bones. There are three degrees of ankle sprains.
- First Degree – The ligaments stretch out and cause minimal swelling, but the ankle is still stable.
- Second Degree – The ligaments partially tear, and the ankle swells. It can take up to six weeks to heal enough to get back to normal activities.
- Third Degree – The ligaments tear, and the pain is severe. Swelling and bruising occur quickly. With a third-degree sprain, it takes six months to an entire year to fully heal.
Depending on the severity, you should do more than tape up your ankle. You’ll likely use ice to ease swelling, keep it elevated, and rest it as much as possible. An ankle brace may be required. You may need over-the-counter NSAID medications to ease swelling and pain and physical therapy to strengthen the ankle joint and prevent re-injury.
A fracture involves a cracked or broken bone. In the case of an ankle, a fracture can occur when an ankle is crushed between or under objects, subjected to impact, or twisted. There are also stress fractures caused by overuse of an ankle.
The ankle joint is made up of the talus (ankle bone), lateral malleolus, and fibula (bones on the outside of the leg), and medial malleolus and tibia (bones on the inside of the leg). The backside of the fibula/lateral malleolus is called the posterior malleolus. Ligaments hold those bones together.
Six out of 10 fractures occur with supination-external rotation (SER). It’s usually related to an ankle twist. There are also supination-adduction (SA), pronation-external rotation (PER), and pronation-abduction (PA) fractures.
Treatments depend on the damage to the bone and ligaments. A splint or ankle brace may be enough if the bone is a hairline fracture, but a full break may require surgical correction. When the bones break but remain in the correct position and alignment, doctors refer to it as a nondisplaced fracture. If the bones are broken and separated or out of alignment, it’s called a displaced fracture.
There are also some less common fractures like the Maisonneuve fracture that occur when the fibula fractures nearer the knee and ligaments surrounding the ankle tear. A Pilon fracture occurs when the end of the tibia breaks against the talus, usually from a fall or jump from a high point that causes an impact fracture in the landing.
Healing times depend on the extent of the fracture and treatment options. If surgery is required to pin bones together, it’s going to take longer to heal than a hairline fracture.
Tendons connect muscles to bones, and they can get overused and become inflamed. Tendonitis in the ankle is a common ankle injury. Some symptoms include swelling with the area feeling warm, a cracking sensation when you move your ankle, pain running along the side or back of the ankle, and pain that worsens with movement.
With ankle tendonitis, rest is essential. Most doctors also recommend anti-inflammatory pain medications, ice, physical therapy, and even an ankle brace. Most cases of tendonitis occur with overexertion. It’s important to see a doctor as tendonitis that isn’t treated can worsen and lead to a torn tendon. If caught early and you listen to your doctor, tendonitis usually heals within three or four weeks.
The Benefits of Working With Premium Sports & Orthopedic After an Ankle Injury
Premium Sports & Orthopedics provides a range of services that help with ankle injuries. Pain management is one of them. Instead of relying on pain medications, doctors work on non-invasive, effective ways of easing pain resulting from tendonitis, sprains, or strained ligaments. Massage, PRP, cryotherapy, and stem cell injections are some of the most effective treatments available for ankle pain.
Stress fractures and ligament and tendon injuries that are due to obesity don’t have to be something you live with. Our doctors have outstanding weight loss and fitness programs that help with weight loss in a way that works for you. Weight loss isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, so what works for one person may not help you at all. Our doctors know it and come up with the right plan that helps you lose weight, strengthen your joints and muscles, and end pain and ankle injuries related to being overweight.
The Fresno orthopedic team at Premium Sports & Orthopedic assists with any accident, physical trauma, or sports injury. When you have an ankle injury that’s causing pain and limiting your mobility, contact us online or by phone. Our appointment scheduler ensures you have an appointment quickly and our physical therapy, pain management, and rehabilitation programs get you back out on the field or your feet as quickly and safely as possible.