You didn’t see South Korea’s Chung Hyeon at Wimbledon early this month. That’s because he pulled out at the last minute due to an ankle injury that was not fully rehabilitated. At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we think Mr. Hyeon is a winner for making that choice. Chronic ankle pain and instability is most often the result of a prior ankle sprain or strains or other ankle injuries that were not fully healed before the patient resumed normal activities. A mistake that many patients make is stopping their physical therapy once the ankle is pain-free. However, in addition to healing the injury and retraining the ligaments of the ankle, it’s essential to strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle to help prevent future twists and injuries. This takes time and when patients terminate physical therapy before this occurs they open themselves up to the possibility of repeated ankle injuries.
Recognizing Chronic Ankle Issues
While some symptoms of a chronic ankle problem are obvious, some are subtler. For example, lower leg pain and pain on the outside of the ankle may indicate an ankle issue. Other symptoms include:
- Stiffness or tenderness in the ankle on a regular basis
- Swelling of the ankle area
- A feeling that your ankle is going to “give way,” or repeatedly twisting your ankle on unlevel surfaces or when wearing high heels
If you are having intermittent or ongoing ankle discomfort, it’s important that you make an appointment with one of our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas to have your ankle evaluated. In addition to physically examining your ankle for tenderness and swelling, the foot doctor will ask questions about previous ankle injuries. She may also wish to get an x-ray or other imaging studies to get a clear picture of the condition of your ankle. Once the podiatrist knows the state of your ankle a treatment plan that best suits you can be developed. It may include:
- Over the counter or prescription medications to take temporarily to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Ankle braces or supports to increase stability
- Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion.