Foot & Ankle: Is it Really Just an Ankle Sprain?

By Ryan B Rigby DPM

Dr. Rigby discusses foot and ankle sprains and treatment.

foot and ankle
Would you like to know the secret solution to nearly all foot and ankle pain? The answer is quite simple; move to the beach and walk barefoot on the sand! It’s more mentally therapeutic than physically therapeutic, but there is nothing else like the crisp sea breeze on your face and soft white sand beneath your feet. 

However, if trading your hard concrete floor for a beach bungalow isn’t an option right now, there is still hope for your feet. There are great advancements and techniques available right here at Logan RegionalOrthopedics to help eliminate your foot and ankle pain. 

One of the most common things I see in the office is weak and unstable ankles. Many of these are the result of a simple ankle sprain. Fortunately, four out of five sprains heal on their own with no long-term complications. However, that leaves 20 percent of people who, after an ordinary ankle sprain, experience long-term pain or weakness. This may result in additional injuries and pain. One such example is called a “high ankle sprain” or syndesmotic injury. These often feel like regular ankle sprains, but if not diagnosed and treated correctly can be career-ending injuries for athletes.

It is important to have an ankle sprain examined if pain and swelling persist for more than a few days...

as this may be the sign of severely damaged ligaments. During an examination, we will identify the ligaments or tendons which are struggling to heal. Then we will determine together the best treatment option for you. 

For most people, non-operative treatment is very effective. Antiinflammatories and topical medications can be used to decrease the pain and inflammation which are caused from the torn ligaments as they heal. Most people will also feel much better after doing targeted physical therapy developed to strengthen the ligaments.

So what do we do about ankles that continue to hurt or feel weak and unstable?

Fortunately, there are minimally invasive operative techniques available that will repair these damaged ligaments. During my training I had the opportunity to help to pioneer a new method for repairing these damaged ligaments arthroscopically. By using tiny cameras we are able to inspect the ankle joint for any cartilage damage, while at the same time repair the ankle ligaments. At the end of the procedure only two or three stitches are needed. As a result patients typically recover much faster. There are many exciting things happening in the world of foot and ankle care, which will keep each of us moving, exercising, and doing the things we enjoy. At least until we find a way to have beach-front property here in Cache Valley.