Ankle injuries common in Craig
- Tenderness to touch
- Instability of the ankle. This may occur when there has been complete tearing of the ligament or a complete dislocation of the ankle joint.
- Rest your ankle by not walking on it. Limit weight bearing. Use crutches if necessary; if there is no fracture you are safe to put some weight on the leg. An ankle brace often helps control swelling and adds stability while the ligaments are healing.
- Ice it to keep down the swelling. Don't put ice directly on the skin (use a thin piece of cloth such as a pillow case between the ice bag and the skin) and don't ice for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.
- Compression can help control swelling as well as immobilize and support your injury.
- Elevate the foot by reclining and propping it up above the waist or heart as needed.
One of the most common foot-related problems doctors see in Craig is an ankle sprain, which occurs when ankle ligaments tear.
“It’s very common here due to sports injuries, farming, outdoor activities and just being on your feet a lot,” said Dr. Derek Harper, a podiatrist with Memorial Regional Health.
You might not think of a foot doctor as the person to see for an ankle sprain, but Harper said more than half his training has been in ankle injuries. Podiatrists in the state of Colorado can treat anything in the ankle and foot, he said.
Ankle sprains can happen to people of all ages and range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of ligament damage, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. While most sprains are minor and heal with home treatments, such as rest and ice, some injuries require more extensive treatment.
With any ankle sprain or injury, the first thing you want to do is start RICE — rest, ice, compression, elevation — Harper said.
“If there’s pain when trying to walk, it’s a good idea to come in and have it checked by a doctor,” he said. “If it’s an ankle sprain, we’ll determine the level of the sprain, how many ligaments are affected and how stable the ankle is.”
Roughly 25,000 people sprain their ankles every day, tearing one or more ligaments on the outer side of the ankle, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.
A doctor will often fit an ankle sprain patient with a walking boot or tell the patient to stay off the foot for a while.
Without proper treatment, sprains can lead to other complications. Getting treatment gives a patient a higher chance of healing the ligaments, Harper said.
“If you have a sprain or if you have multiple sprains in the same ankle, it can damage ligaments on the outside of the ankle,” Harper said. “That can lead to uneven wear on that ankle, meaning it can prematurely wear it out, which can lead to arthritis and bigger problems later.”
A twisting force to the lower leg or foot can cause a sprain. The lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured most frequently, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
After an ankle sprain heals, doctors examine the injury to assess if surgery might be needed, Harper said.
To schedule an appointment with Harper, call 970-826-2465.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.