Why You Shouldn't Play Through a Sprained Ankle

Did you know that about 30% of sports injuries are ankle sprains? That makes this painful injury the most common musculoskeletal sports injury out there. And that only includes sprained ankles treated by medical professionals, meaning thousands more sprained ankles occur every year. 

Ankle sprains can range from severe to mild, and sometimes when the pain isn’t too great it can be tempting to keep using a sprained ankle. But playing through a sprained ankle can lead it to heal incorrectly, causing chronic ankle issues to arise.

At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, our board-certified podiatrist Sean Rosenblum, DPM, provides a comprehensive line of podiatric services to address many types of ankle and foot issues for patients in Lodi, New Jersey — including treating ankle sprains. Dr. Rosenblum also believes patient education can go a long way in preventing unnecessary injury. 

That’s why our expert team put together this informative guide about why playing through a sprained ankle is never a good idea, as well as how you can prevent this injury from turning into a chronic problem. 

Understanding ankle sprains

Before we can understand why you shouldn’t play through a sprained ankle, it’s important to understand what ankle sprains involve. Let’s take a closer look 

The ankle joint is complex, comprising three main bones held together with tendons and ligaments. Everything in the joint works together to help you move. Unfortunately, even slight displacements, which can occur when you twist or roll your ankle, can result in an ankle injury

When the ligaments in your ankle are injured, an ankle sprain results. Not all ankle sprains are the same, however. Doctors classify three types of ankle sprains, Grades I, II, and III, ranging from the mildest to the most severe. The grade describes both the level of damage to your ligaments as well as the impact on your ability to function and move.

Symptoms of ankle sprains vary depending on the severity of your injury, but may include:

The symptoms of ankle sprains can be similar to other sports injuries, so be sure to have your ankle evaluated by an experienced provider. Dr. Rosenblum and our team at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic have the expertise needed to ensure a quick and effective treatment that helps prevent ongoing complications.

Don’t play through an ankle sprain

While it can be tempting to shrug off an ankle sprain as a minor injury and keep playing or carrying on with your normal activities, when ankle sprains don’t heal correctly, you increase your risk of developing a condition called chronic ankle instability.

This condition results in your foot frequently “giving way” and rolling inward. About 20% of people with acute ankle sprains also develop chronic ankle instability when their ankle doesn’t recover as it should. 

Some signs you may have developed chronic instability include:

Playing through an ankle sprain increases your risk of developing chronic ankle instability, which makes it more likely you’ll re-sprain your ankle — even when you’re not playing sports. If you develop this condition, simply walking on uneven surfaces, like gravel or hiking trails, increases your risk of re-spraining or breaking your ankle.

What to do if you sprain your ankle

To keep your ankle joint healthy, the best thing to do if you suspect a sprained ankle is to immediately seek treatment for it. The more severe your sprain, the more likely it is to heal incorrectly without proper medical attention. But even mild sprains can lead to chronic ankle troubles. 

When you come to Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, Dr. Rosenblum assesses your injury and creates a customized treatment to address your symptoms and treat the underlying issue. In the meantime, if you suspect a sprained ankle, be sure to take precautions to prevent chronic issues from developing. 

Stop using the injured ankle right away. Then use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to keep your ankle from getting worse while you schedule your appointment. 

In the case of very severe ankle injuries, try to get immediate care. If you visit the emergency room, follow up with Dr. Rosenblum to get individualized treatment and prevent future complications. 

If you’ve recently suffered an ankle injury, contact our ankle experts at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic for expert treatment by calling 973-218-5720, or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment now. 

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