Ankle Sprain Complications: When Things Don’t Heal As Expected

Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur when the ligaments surrounding the ankle are stretched or torn. While most ankle sprains heal with proper care and treatment, there are instances where complications can arise. In this blog, we’ll explore the complications associated with ankle sprains, particularly high ankle sprains, and discuss treatment and management options to address these challenges. If you’re dealing with ankle sprain complications, including high ankle sprains, and seeking expert evaluation and treatment, contact Specialty Care Clinics at (469) 545-9983 today.

Understanding Ankle Sprains

Before delving into complications, let’s briefly understand ankle sprains. They can range from mild to severe and are categorized into two main types: lateral ankle sprains (affecting the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle) and high ankle sprains (involving the syndesmosis ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg).

turned ankle

Typical Healing Process

In most cases, ankle sprains follow a typical healing process with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E), along with physical therapy. However, high ankle sprains, which affect the ligaments between the tibia and fibula, tend to be more complex and can result in complications.

High Ankle Sprain Complications

High ankle sprains, also known as syndesmotic ankle sprains, can lead to several complications, including:

Chronic Pain: Some individuals experience chronic pain and discomfort in the affected ankle, even after the initial injury has healed.

Ankle Instability: High ankle sprains can weaken the ankle, making it more prone to future injuries and instability.

Reduced Range of Motion: Swelling, scar tissue, or joint stiffness can limit the range of motion in the ankle, affecting mobility.

Arthritis: In severe cases, high ankle sprains can lead to post-traumatic arthritis, causing long-term joint pain and inflammation.

Ankle Sprain Treatment and Management

For individuals experiencing complications from ankle sprains, particularly high ankle sprains, a tailored treatment and management plan is essential:

Consult a Specialist: Seek evaluation and treatment from a sports medicine physician or orthopedic specialist experienced in ankle injuries.

Imaging: Diagnostic tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may be necessary to assess the severity of the injury and identify any underlying issues.

Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a customized rehabilitation program to improve strength, flexibility, and ankle stability.

Bracing and Supports: In some cases, ankle braces or supports may be prescribed to provide stability and prevent reinjury.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.

Corticosteroid Injections: In cases of severe pain and inflammation, corticosteroid injections may be considered.

Surgery: In rare instances where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair damaged ligaments or address complications.


Preventing Ankle Sprain Complications

Preventing complications from ankle sprains, especially high ankle sprains, involves taking preventive measures:

Early Intervention: Seek prompt medical attention for any ankle injury to prevent complications from developing.

Rehabilitation: Comply with your physical therapy regimen to regain strength and stability in the ankle.

Bracing: Consider using ankle braces or supports during physical activities, especially if you’ve had a previous sprain.

Proper Footwear: Wear supportive shoes that provide adequate ankle support, particularly during sports or physical activities.

Gradual Return to Activity: Ease back into sports or physical activities under the guidance of a healthcare provider to minimize the risk of reinjury.

While most ankle sprains heal with proper care, high ankle sprains and complications can pose unique challenges. If you suspect complications from an ankle sprain, consult a specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. With the right approach, including physical therapy, bracing, and proper medical care, you can effectively manage ankle sprain complications and regain mobility, allowing you to return to an active and pain-free lifestyle.

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