Thousands of people sprain their ankle each and every day, and these sprains can range in severity from relatively minor to incredibly significant. No matter where your sprain falls on that spectrum, it’s imperative that you proactively treat your injury so that issues don’t linger. Not only can symptoms remain ever-present if you fail to fully address the sprain, other problems can develop. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some common foot conditions that may be in your future if you don’t completely treat your initial ankle sprain.
Foot Problems That Can Begin After An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain involves damage to the ligaments that help to support your ankle joint and other tissues in the area. If you don’t work to help these structures get back to a pre-injury level of fitness after your injury, any number of the following problems may develop in the short-term or later down the road.
- Chronic Ankle Sprains – One of the most common issues associated with an incorrectly treated ankle sprain is continued rolling and spraining of the ankle. If your ligaments aren’t strengthened after an initial injury, they aren’t going to be able to provide a normal level of stability to your ankle joint. This means that it will take less stress for your ligaments to be overburdened and give out. This cycle can be difficult to break out of once ligament damage has worsened, so don’t wait until your second or third sprain before you begin to seriously treat the injury.
- Ankle Fractures – A sprain may be the least of your worries if your ankle gives out at the wrong time. If your ankle gives out when there is a large amount of stress on the joint, it could cause the bones in the ankle to fracture under the pressure. Depending on the location and pattern of the fracture, you may need months of conservative care or a surgical procedure to address the injury. Damaged ankle ligaments that never fully heal can put you at risk for both sprains and ankle fractures.
- Knee Pain – Your entire gait can be thrown off by an injury to one of your ankles, and if you’re walking with a limp or a hitch in your step, or if you’re simply walking in a manner in order to take strain off the ankle, it can lead to additional stress on other structures. Oftentimes your knee is the joint that has to handle more stress as a result of an attempt to protect your weakened ankle ligaments. Instead of trying to protect the ankle because it’s been weakened by injury, work to strengthen the area so that other body parts don’t have to take on additional stress.
- Fall-Related Injuries – Untreated ligament damage can leave you feeling less steady on your feet. While that may not seem like a major issue when you’re younger and have better balance, it can lead to life-altering issues when you’re older if you suffer a significant fall. Fall injuries are a leading cause of hospitalizations among elderly individuals, and you’re at a heightened risk for a fall if you’re unsteady on your feet due to unresolved ligament damage.
So while that original ankle sprain may not seem like a major issue, if you don’t work to proactively improve the health of your injured ankle ligaments, you could be in store for more health issues down the road. Instead, connect with a foot and ankle specialist like Dr. McDonald who can ensure your ankle ligaments return to a pre-injury level of fitness through conservative or operative means. For more information, or for help with a different foot and ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald’s office today at (860) 244-8889.