Why Seeking Help for Ankle Pain Is So Important

Feb 16, 2023

Most everyone has experienced pain in their ankles at some point, making deciding when to get help a gray area. Let’s look at some black-and-white facts about ankle pain and when intervention is a good idea.

You step off the curb and twist your ankle and find yourself hopping in pain. Or, perhaps you twist your ankle while playing your favorite sport. Whatever the conditions, most Americans are no strangers to ankle pain.

Since ankle pain is so commonplace, it can make deciding when to get help a bit of a gray area. 

To help with your decision-making, the skilled team of musculoskeletal experts here at Los Angeles Orthopedic Surgery Specialists wants to make a few points in favor of erring on the side of caution when it comes to these important joints.

After RICE

About two million people sprain an ankle each year in the United States, and those are just the ones we know about. There are different grades of ankle sprains, and even a minor twist that stretches the ligaments in your ankles qualifies.

If you suspect that you’ve injured your ankle, your first step is to deploy the RICE method as quickly as possible, which stands for:

  • Rest — get off your ankle
  • Ice — apply ice for 10-20 minutes at least three times in 24 hours
  • Compression — firmly wrap your ankle to keep swelling down
  • Elevation — raise your ankle above chest height as much as possible

If you still have pain and/or swelling after 24 hours of using RICE, it’s time to come see us, especially if you can’t bear weight on the joint. In that case, you may be looking at more considerable ligament damage, or even an ankle fracture, and we need to figure out the extent of the injury to determine next steps.

This early care is important if you consider that up to 40% of people who sprain an ankle go on to develop chronic symptoms, including pain and swelling, that last for a year or more. With early treatment, you can avoid prolonging the sprain, as well as the risk of re-injuring your ankle.

Ignoring sprains and ankle instability

If an ankle injury isn’t treated properly from the start, chronic ankle instability may be the result. This progression to a chronic problem affects 20% of people who incur an acute ankle sprain. 

As the name implies, chronic ankle instability means that your ankle can give out more easily because of loosened ligaments. This condition sets you up for a lifetime of not feeling confident on the affected ankle, not to mention recurring sprains.

Here again, early intervention allows us to head off future issues like chronic ankle instability.

Your ankles are important

This last point is an obvious one, but we’re going to make it anyway. Your ankles are critical to your mobility, so taking a little time to ensure they’re in the best possible health is a step toward future problem-free mobility.

If you’re at all on the fence about whether to come see us for ankle pain, we urge you to err on the side of caution. To get started, call one of our offices in Los Angeles, California — in Glendale, Wilshire, and East LA, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, Encino, Newhall, Montebello, and Tarzana. You can also schedule an appointment for a consultation online.

Los Angeles Orthopedic Surgery Specialists