Kellie K. Middleton, MD

What Are the Dangers of Untreated Ankle Injury?

Dec 14, 2021
What Are the Dangers of Untreated Ankle Injury?
Twisting, rolling, or turning the ankle can often cause temporary pain. People who suffer from an ankle injury often limp around for a few days. Once the swelling and pain are over, they just forget about it...

Twisting, rolling, or turning the ankle can often cause temporary pain. People who suffer from an ankle injury often limp around for a few days. Once the swelling and pain are over, they just forget about it. It is quite common to handle the ankle sprain in such a manner, but it is not recommended. Untreated ankle injuries can lead to further complications which you might not be ready for. 

If you wouldn’t let a head injury go untreated, then why shouldn’t you do the same to the ankle? You need to give your ankle the same care if you have injured it. Otherwise, you could suffer from a life-long struggle with chronic pain and inflexibility.

What Do You Mean by Ankle Injuries?

Ankle Injuries

Let us understand the basic structure of the ankle. It is made of three main bones – talus, fibula, tibia, and different ligaments and tendons which help to move your ankle. 

Together, all these help you move your ankle and offer the stability you need when moving. Even a small displacement with the ankle can result in an injury. You can suffer from an ankle injury from different activities. An injury can be a result of fitness activities, after falling or tripping, and when you suddenly twist your ankle during activity. 

There are different types of ankle injuries, and it can be difficult to differentiate each of them without proper medical evaluation. Some of them are:

Ankle Strains

An ankle strain occurs when a tendon gets stretched or even torn. A thick tissue connects your ankle muscle to the femur bone. Ankle strains can be minor or severe and often result in a ligament tear. 

Ankle Sprains

If you injure your ankle, there might be three types of ankle sprains, namely – Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III, where Grade I is least severe, and Grade III is the most severe. 

Ankle Fractures

Ankle fractures can happen in various ways. It can be from a small break in a single bone that needs some rest to severe cracks in the bone that may need surgery. An ankle sprain can also damage the ankle ligaments needing physical therapy and sometimes surgery to fix it.  

What are the Symptoms of an Injured Ankle?

Symptoms of an Injured Ankle

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of an injured ankle are –

  • Swelling around the ankle joint
  • Bruising or discoloration around the ankle
  • A feeling of instability in the ankle
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Popping sound during the time of injury
  • Pain when you put weight on the ankle
  • Difficulty when bending and rotating the foot

The severity of the symptoms will depend on the severity of the ankle injury but in general; it will lead to some discomfort and restrict your ability to walk.

Why Should You Never Leave Ankle Injuries Untreated?

If you have an ankle injury, all you need is a rest. Minor injuries can improve on their own with proper rest and home care. But, if you do not see any improvement after a couple of days, you need to see a medical professional who can evaluate the extent of the injury. 

If left untreated, it can lead to chronically unstable ankle joints. It can easily lead to degenerative and arthritic changes in the ankle and sometimes chronic tendon inflammation. Even if you feel that the ankle has been treated, you may feel constant pain, which may cause re-injury on the ankle. Later, you may end up having difficulty walking.

There are various activities you should not do if you suspect an ankle injury. It helps to keep the sprained ankle from becoming worse. These are:

Do Not Walk It Off

Severe ankle injuries should always be immobilized at the earliest. Do not try to continue with your day with an injured ankle, as it can further injure the ankle ligaments. 

Do Not Ignore It

One of the highest risk factors for future ankle injuries is a history of earlier injuries. Now, this happens when ankle injuries are not treated in a timely manner. They can cause instability on the ankle, leading to swelling, chronic pain, and early arthritis. 

Do Not Delay the Treatment

Ankle injuries, when immobilized, can allow the ankle to heal in the correct manner. If not, it can result in poor long-term health concerns such as disability, arthritis, and even chronic pain throughout your life.

What Steps Should You Take for Complete Recovery of Ankle Injuries?

Complete Recovery of Ankle Injuries

After an ankle injury, take the following steps to ensure the quickest and complete recovery –

Cautionary Tactics

The first line of defense against an ankle injury is to take care of your ankle at home. Sit down and keep weight off your ankle till you are evaluated. Place ice on the ankle or wrap it with a tight compression bandage while you make a doctor’s appointment for an evaluation. 

Visit a Medical Professional

Book an appointment with a licensed orthopedist. They’ll not only examine your injury but also order further tests to rule out any serious injury. X-ray or MRI helps to identify if the injury includes damage to cartilage or tendon tear. An injury examination can help your doctor provide the necessary treatment to aid its healing.  

Rehabilitate the Injured Ankle

Depending on the extent of the ankle injury, your orthopedist should be able to recommend medication, exercise, or physical therapy to stabilize your ankle. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to treat fractures, tendonitis, or problems that cannot be resolved with medications and therapy. 

Immobilize the Ankle

There might be a need to immobilize the ankle properly to ensure the ligaments heal in a stable and tight position. If not done properly, the ligaments may heal in a lax position that can lead to further injury and also lead to chronic ankle instability.

An ankle injury may seem like something that happens often, but if it is left untreated, even a small injury can cause ankle instability and other ailments. So, do not hesitate to request orthopedic help for ankle injuries. The specialists will evaluate your ankle and ensure the right diagnosis and care to get you back on your feet. In addition, never ignore rehabilitating the ankle injury to ensure a healthy and stable ankle without any complications.