You may need to see your doctor if you have pain or swelling in your foot or ankle. A physical exam and x-rays can help diagnose the cause of your ankle pain.
Your doctor will ask questions about your pain, like when it started and how it affects your daily life. He or she will also review your medical history and typical workout routine.
Most ankle injuries such as sprains get better with at-home treatments. These include rest, ice, compression and elevation. Your provider may recommend crutches to help you avoid putting weight on your injured ankle. Ice helps reduce swelling and should be applied several times a day, 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Prolonged inflammation increases pain and slows healing. This is why it is important to follow the RICE regimen for your ankle injury:
Ice is a tried and true tool for reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation. Apply a cold pack or ice slush bath (covered with a light towel to prevent frostbite) for 20 minutes, every two to three hours, as needed for the first 48 hours after injury.
Heat can also ease muscle and joint pain. Warming up with a hot shower or using a heating pad before exercise can help reduce muscle stiffness and joint discomfort. However, it is important not to use heat for more than 10 minutes at a time. Heat applied too long may increase swelling and inhibit healing.
Ankle pain may result from injuries to ligaments, tendons or bones. A seasoned ankle pain management doctor can help you address this type of discomfort. Their treatments include resting, applying ice and compressing the ankle to reduce swelling. They also prescribe medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen that relieve pain and inflammation.
The specialist will examine your foot and ankle for signs of swelling, bruising or redness. They’ll also order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans to get a closer look at soft tissues and bones. These tests are especially useful in identifying problems like fractures and rotator cuff injuries. They also reveal chronic vascular diseases that can cause vein valves to fail, leading to dilated varicose or spider veins.
Elevating an injured ankle above heart level helps reduce swelling. It works because gravity drains excess fluids away from the site of an injury and toward the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
In addition to home treatment, patients can take pain medications without a prescription such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). These drugs help relieve the pain and control inflammation.
After a patient receives x-rays, Dr. Sherick will discuss her injury with her and ask questions about her lifestyle, past injuries, general activity levels, and if there are any other issues that could contribute to the injury. This information will help her develop a comprehensive treatment strategy.
X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are important diagnostic tools to help doctors see the extent of ankle ligament damage. Doctors may also want to touch the ankle and foot for tender points and perform physical tests.
Oral over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. However, taking them too often can increase your risk for gastrointestinal issues.
Regardless of your age or level of activity, an ankle sprain can be debilitating. Board-certified podiatrist Thomas Lim at The Sunset Foot Clinic can help you recover quickly and safely while advising on how to avoid future injuries.
Your ankles support your body weight, absorb shock and provide balance and mobility. They depend on numerous muscles, tendons and ligaments to work properly. If these structures are injured or develop deformities, you might require surgery.
Surgery options include tendon repair or reconstruction. Surgeons use arthroscopic techniques to sew torn ends of tendons back together. They may also perform a triple fusion to treat arthritis within the talonavicular, subtalar and calcaneocuboid joints.
You can expect to stay in the hospital overnight after this procedure. You will wear a supportive splint or cast while you recover. At a follow-up appointment 10 to 14 days after surgery, doctors will swap the splint for a removable boot that allows you to place weight on your foot.