Molly S. Judge DPM, FACFAS
Ankle injuries are frequently shrugged off as a “simple sprain” when often they are much more than that. In general, a severe sprain is just shy of breaking or fracturing the ankle. In an ankle sprain, there may be nothing on a routine x-ray to suggest that there is anything out of place and there is no evidence of bone injury that would require surgery. As a consequence, it is presumed that the ankle will simply heal itself since it is “just a sprain.”
The anatomy of the foot and ankle is fairly complicated, and so it is common that injuries within the foot and ankle are simply missed on the first examination. Oftentimes, the foot and ankle are so tender immediately after the injury that it is hard to examine, and so it should be recommended that patients follow up with a foot and ankle specialist to ensure that there isn’t a major underlying injury.
The following is a list of injuries commonly associated with the “simple ankle sprain.” These conditions, if left unchecked, can result in ankle instability, chronic pain, arthritis, and even unhealed bone fractures (nonunion of bone). These conditions often require aggressive therapies ranging from physical therapy to surgery for fracture repair and stabilization.