Most people occasionally take a bad step and strain or twist their ankle a little. In many cases, the soreness lasts a few minutes or a few hours, and then you forget the bad step even happened. But sometimes, the ankle problem is more serious than that. What are the indications that you're dealing with more than just a twisted ankle? Here's a look.
1. Your ankle swells.
Minor strains do not usually cause inflammation — at least not inflammation that is readily apparent through your skin. If your ankle begins to swell after you take a bad step, then something more serious may be going on. You might have pulled or torn a tendon or ligament, or you could even have broken a bone. If the swelling creeps in a couple of days after the injury, this is also an indication of more serious damage; you should seek the care of an ankle doctor ASAP.
2. Your ankle feels really stiff.
If you feel that your ankle is becoming less flexible in a way that makes you unable to walk comfortably or normally, this is not a good sign. You might feel as though you have to hobble around, or like you can only rest your weight on your toes or heel — not both. When you try to make circles with your foot while seated, your ankle does not want to move in one direction, or you simply feel resistance. This stiffness can suggest a more serious injury, or it might be the result of an ongoing, ever-worsening condition, such as arthritis. A podiatrist will be able to examine you and tell the difference.
3. The pain persists for more than a day or two.
Pain that lasts more than one or two days indicates that you're dealing with more than a simple twist. If the pain is really serious, you might have a break, but keep in mind that even sprains can be really painful. It is not true that a sprained ankle does not require care. When it's bad enough to cause lasting pain, you could probably benefit from treatment by a podiatrist, whether that be time spent in a splint or a few sessions with a physical therapist.
Some ankle issues are more serious than others, but remember, treatment is available from podiatrists. They can take x-rays and CT scans to diagnose your specific problem, allowing them to recommend the best methods of care.
To learn more about the care a podiatrist could provide, look for medical services in your area.