Ankle hurt? Don’t Ignore it – Here’s What to do Instead

If your ankle hurts with every step, you know how hard it is to ignore. Although it isn’t one of your biggest joints (like your hip or shoulder), your ankle performs the vital job of making sure you can walk, run, pivot, pedal, swim, and more. Unfortunately, ankle issues are also something people seem willing to ignore, push through pain, and end up with more problems down the road. Instead of ignoring your ankle, taking a day off activity, and hoping for the best, here are the most common injuries and what to do instead:

Ankle Injuries:

The ankle is at a vulnerable point on your body, prone to overuse, strain, and accidents. As with other joints, carrying extra weight can cause problems in your ankle. Sprains and strains are one of the most common ankle injuries, often caused by the ankle rolling too far in or out and stretching tendons/ligaments.

The bad news is that if you’ve suffered a serious sprain/strain previously you’re at a higher risk for future ankle injury. You may also have a higher risk of arthritis, pain, and problems with joint movement. Ankle sprains/strains are common to sports that require quick turns, pivots, or planting one leg, such as: basketball, football, soccer, etc. Unfortunately, ankle injuries can also result from bad luck like stepping down and landing wrong, falling, or slipping.

What to Do:

Immediately after injury

Rest. Stop your activity and don’t be tempted to finish your game, your last mile, your work out, etc. Put yourself on the IR list for the immediate future.

Ice. Apply a cold pack for about 10 minutes periodically throughout the day.

OTC medication. You can also try over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for swelling and/or discomfort.

Elevate. Sit with your foot propped up above your heart to help reduce swelling. Don’t immobilize yourself, but do try to periodically elevate your foot.

Wrap it. You can provide some gentle support by wrapping your ankle with a basic, inexpensive elastic bandage. Don’t wrap your ankle too tight, and be sure that it isn’t painful.

In the Next Few Days

Call a Pro: Have your injury evaluated by a physical therapist. A PT can both examine you and create a custom plan to make sure you heal properly. If you may need imaging, s/he’ll also recommend that. Your PT will work with you to determine what may have contributed to your ankle injury, as well as how to help prevent future injury. If your ankle is prone to further sprains/strains, you’ll learn how to stretch and strengthen the area and surrounding tissue. You’ll work on goals like reducing pain, increasing flexibility, movement, strengthening, and more.

Take it Easy: Trying to jump back into your usual routine when you’re injured can end up costing you in the long run. Take it easy and don’t rush your recovery. Working with a professional is your best bet to make sure that your ankle injury doesn’t keep you down for long.

Keep Moving: While it may seem better to stop moving, you shouldn’t become immobile. In the case of even a severe sprain/strain, you don’t want the joint to completely stiffen up. Try to gently move your ankle and walk normally, if possible. Your PT will determine the severity of your injury, and give you specific instructions on how to move/stretch your ankle.

If your ankle (or something else) hurts, don’t stress, just call Body One Physical Therapy! We’re locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our team of caring, expert physical therapists works with clients of all ages and activity levels and we’d love to help you, too. Don’t turn to Dr. Google, call Body One and let us help you make a strong, healthy comeback this year!

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