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Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports-related injuries orthopedic doctors see, but they are often perceived as minor injuries and are easily forgotten. However, injuries to the ankle joint should never be overlooked, as they can often intensify into a long-term problem. Damage to the ankle joint can show up years down the road in the form of osteoarthritis, causing pain and complications.
Though osteoarthritis is more common in hips and knees, its symptoms are the same when in the ankle. Patients experience pain, inflammation, cartilage damage, and immobility, which can hinder a person’s lifestyle at work, home, and in recreational activities.
Recent research suggests that ankle sprains may predispose patients to osteoarthritis, increasing their likelihood of developing the disease in later years. Studies have found that roughly 18% of participants who had suffered and been treated for an ankle sprain were suffering from arthritis and experiencing joint instability. Additionally, one particular study found that the average time between an ankle sprain and the development of arthritis is 21 years.
Our skilled team of specialty-trained foot and ankle doctors offers you the following tips for preventing and treating osteoarthritis:
- Maintain a healthy weight to help reduce stress on the ankle.
- Wear inserts and braces to help stabilize the foot and take stress off the ankle.
- Perform ankle rehabilitation exercises even before injury to build strength and prevent ankle sprains or injuries from taking place.
- Take anti-inflammatory medicine after an ankle sprain to provide temporary relief.
- Discuss cortisone or steroid injections with your doctor, as these help reduce inflammation and provide relatively long-term pain relief.
- Follow your physical therapy program to help relieve stress and pain and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Discuss surgical alternatives with your doctor, such as arthroscopy, fusion, and joint replacement, if conservative treatment options have failed to relieve your pain.
If you have experienced an ankle sprain or other traumatic ankle injury, schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled and compassionate specialty-trained ankle doctors at Slocum Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine by calling (541) 249-4091.