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When to Go to an Ankle Injury Doctor: 6 Telltale Signs

December 12, 2022

Various factors may cause ankle pain and need an ankle injury doctor. A sprain, fracture, osteoarthritis, or bursitis could cause it. When an ankle injury is minimal, the RICE (rice, ice, compression, and elevation) approach might be used to treat it. If your symptoms improve, you may not need to visit an ankle injury doctor. However, severe or chronic ankle pain that is accompanied by other symptoms should be addressed by a doctor.

What Are The Signs That You Need To Go To An Ankle Injury Doctor?

Do You Hear Popping in Your Ankle?

Hearing a popping or breaking sound after twisting your ankle is a sign of ankle joint or ligament damage. The damage may be serious if it is followed by acute ankle pain. An X-ray is the only way to identify the damage's extent correctly.

Swelling And Severe Pain

Severe pain indicates a significant injury. Any ankle injury may cause discomfort at first, but it should recover after a few days of conservative therapy. Ankle sprains, for example, usually heal in a few days. If your ankle discomfort worsens, visit an ankle injury doctor right away.

There are many signs that you need to go to an ankle injury doctor.

Loss of Sensation

In contrast, lack of sensation may suggest nerve injury. Diabetes patients are at risk of developing peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels. You will most likely experience pins-and-needles sensations as well as numbness. A doctor should look at this.


The deformity may result from severe fractures. The bone may even protrude from under the skin. With such a severe fracture, you will be in excruciating agony and need immediate medical attention. Ankle fractures that go misdiagnosed and untreated may also result in deformity. A poorly managed ankle fracture may lead to long-term complications such as arthritis.

Inability to Place Weight on Affected Ankle

An ankle injury, such as a sprain or fracture, may make putting weight on the afflicted ankle unpleasant. Ankle discomfort, stiffness, edema, and reduced range of motion are common symptoms that accompany ankle weakness.

Incapable of Resuming Normal Activities

If you cannot walk and resume regular activities after several days, see an ankle injury doctor about your ankle pain. This is often a clue that an underlying injury or ailment must be treated before symptoms improve.

Your ankles are critical to your daily functioning. An ankle injury doctor can diagnose the source of your ankle pain or the degree of the ankle damage and then propose the best recovery and rehabilitation plan for you.

How to Treat an Ankle Sprain

The primary objective is to reduce pain and swelling while protecting the ligaments from additional damage. This generally entails following the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Rest the ankle as much as you can for the first 24 to 48 hours if you experience extreme discomfort and edema.

During this period, soak your ankle and foot in cold water or utilize an ice pack (covering the ankle with a towel to protect your skin) for 15-20 minutes 3 times a day or until the swelling subsides.

Compress the ankle using an elasticized wrap, like a bandage or elastic sleeve, to minimize swelling. Elevate your ankle as comfortably as you can while sitting – to the height of your hip, if feasible. Avoid anything that may cause swelling in the first 24 hours, such as hot showers, hot packs, or heat massages.

Ankle Treatments Without Surgery

Ankle sprains may be treated with the RICE technique (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), ankle bracing, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If that isn't enough, the ankle injury doctor may prescribe one of the nonsurgical therapy alternatives listed below.


Steroid injections may be used to alleviate pain and inflammation while also increasing ankle joint mobility. Other injections that employ cells from your own body to help rebuild damaged and broken ligaments and tendons in the ankle joint, decrease healing time, and postpone or eliminate the need for surgery are recommended by ankle injury doctors.

Rehabilitation Therapy

Our ankle physical therapists can assist you in avoiding stiffness, increasing ankle strength, and preventing ankle instability. They collaborate with your doctor to develop a customized sport- and activity-specific rehabilitation plan to increase your mobility and strengthen your ankle, muscles, and tendons. Resistance workouts, water exercises, balance training, and endurance and agility exercises may all be part of your regimen.

Surgery on the Ankle

Ankle surgery may be advised if the ankle damage is too severe.

Ankle surgery may be indicated if you have persistent ankle instability and chronic ankle discomfort that has not responded to months of nonsurgical therapy. Ankle surgery may be required to clean the joint or repair and rebuild damaged ligaments. If you have substantial ankle joint deterioration due to arthritis, you may be a candidate for ankle replacement surgery or ankle fusion.

Arthroscopy of the Ankle

An arthroscope, a thin tube-like instrument with a camera at its tip, is introduced into the ankle joint via small incisions. Ankle arthroscopy enables your ankle surgeon to examine your joint, remove chipped bones and scar tissue, and repair or rebuild damaged or strained ankle tissues.

Reconstruction of Ankle Ligaments

Ankle ligaments that have been severely damaged may be mended or replaced utilizing tendons obtained from elsewhere in the body or donor tissue.

Fusion of the Ankles

If you've got severe ankle arthritis and aren't a candidate for ankle replacement surgery, ankle arthrodesis, also known as ankle fusion, may be considered. Two bones below your ankle joint are fused together to fortify the ankle and prevent ankle instability. The lengthy operation alleviates discomfort and restores some functions.

Surgery to Replace an Ankle

This operation, also known as ankle arthroplasty or complete ankle replacement, may treat severe arthritis and damaged ankle joints. The diseased ankle joint is replaced with a metal and plastic ankle implant. Total ankle replacement surgery alleviates discomfort while restoring function.

What To Look for In An Ankle Injury Doctor

You should consult an ankle injury doctor as soon as possible when you injure your ankle. Here are five essential considerations when looking for an ankle injury doctor:

1. Location

When you damage your ankle, you lose stability and mobility. Look for an ankle injury doctor to assist you in recovering and returning to regular activities.

You'll need to locate an expert specialist who can immediately see you. An ankle injury doctor can help you precisely assess your ankle injury and distinguish between one that will recover without surgery and one that will need surgery. In addition, seek a doctor with a kind and competent staff near you. Take into account the location and accessibility of both the office and the operation facility.

Though most ankle sprains and other injuries do not need surgery, when searching for an ankle injury doctor, inquire particularly about where procedures are performed. Some experts perform their procedures at an outpatient surgical facility, while others do so in a hospital.

2. Reviews

References and reviews allow you to observe a physician's work through a patient's eyes. After working with a certain physician, a person may quickly submit a rating and survey. These ratings might give you an idea of the service you will get before you go into a doctor's office.

There are several considerations to keep in mind when looking for an ankle injury doctor.

That said, keep in mind that anybody may leave an internet review. Patients who are dissatisfied with a doctor for a non-medical cause may vent their frustrations online.

However, a recommendation is a far better approach to confirming that an ankle injury doctor is competent. You may believe a trusted friend or family member who says a doctor is experienced, trustworthy, and an excellent ankle specialist.

3. Specialty

Examine the physician's qualifications, education, training, and board certification (s). Learn the distinctions between an ankle orthopedic surgeon, a sports medicine doctor, and a podiatrist. Consult your primary care physician to see if the ankle specialist you're contemplating has the proper training and expertise. Ankle specialists specialize in the treatment of ankle injuries. They have specialized training for that area of your body.

4. Experience

When searching for an ankle injury doctor, you have many choices for physicians. Because they've seen dozens, if not hundreds, of various sorts of ankle injuries, the top ankle injury doctor will understand the best ankle injury therapy.

Furthermore, having an ankle injury treated by a fellowship-trained doctor means you're getting a specialist with an additional year of training and expertise. They spent a year training under another great surgeon and focusing just on ankles.

Look for an ankle injury doctor who is eager to talk about cutting-edge techniques, equipment, and technology. You want someone eager to learn how to treat your ankle issues.

5. Insurance Coverage

Because foot/ankle injuries may take time to heal and limit your ability to stand, walk, and drive, it is important to consult with an ankle injury doctor who will work with you to completely recover as soon as possible.

Prolonged absence from work or inability to drive has significant repercussions. It is critical to consult an ankle injury doctor who will empathize with you and guide you through the emotional and professional problems that your ankle injury brings as it heals.

© 2024, John Hibbitts, M.D. All Rights Reserved.