Don't ignore pain of sprained ankle

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
May 23, 2008 3:29:16 PM PDT
It's a common injury-- getting a sprained ankle. But how do you know the difference between a serious case and a mild one?

Many people misjudge the severity and end up NOT getting the proper treatment.

Seven's on Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

The proper treatment for most ankle sprains is just ice and rest over a couple days.

But there are times when the pain persists. Though there's a tendency among many weekend athletes to just ignore it, the result can be cartilage damage, bone damage and arthritis down the line.

Bob Fohngho, 25, has been a basketball player going way back. He had a bad sprain four years ago. His reaction is typical for many athletes and weekend warriors.

"It's probably mentality that it's just a sprain and that I could still walk on it and run on it," basketball player Bob Fohngho said. "I really didn't think I had to g o to the doctor for it."

But it left his ankle weakened and he re-sprained it again and again until he had an MRI.

"Here, you can see he has developed a cyst," Dr. John Kennedy at Hospital for Special Surgery said. "The cartilage that lines the joint has fallen in to the cyst."

Dr. John Kennedy says that as the ankle twists, the most common sprains involve a stretching and tearing of a ligament, and cartilage damage from pressure between two bones.

He says most sprains just need two days of ice and rest.

"If they still have pain a week later, that's when they should go to the primary care MD to have the next step to go to the physical therapist," Dr. John Kennedy said.

If pain persists, an orthopedist should take a look.

Bob needed surgery to get him back on the court. He's learned not to ignore what some would call... just a sprain.

If it hurts, that's not a normal body feeling so you should definitely go see your doctor.

The operation that Dr. Kennedy did for Bob used transplanted cartilage and stem cells to replace the damaged area of his ankle bone.

How many of us ignore sprains?

A recent study found that a third of ankle sprain sufferers were still having pain a year later and at three years, 25% were still in pain.