It's my ankleversary
June 23, 2014 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Sprained my ankle May 2013. It seemed to heal, and now is acting up again. Thoughts? Suggestions?

I sprained my ankle pretty badly in May 2013 by basically falling into a pothole walking home in the dark. It rolled and hurt acutely for about a week. I had it looked at and there was no bone fracturing, just the sprain. I did rest, NSAIDs, elevation at work and home, and gave it a good long rest period until I was back to using my standing desk.

It was fine through the summer, fall, and winter though it would swell intermittently in the evenings (maybe 2x month). Around October I stopped hearing from it all together and was running about 3x a week. I got really sick in Feb 2014 and was mostly bedridden for about 5 weeks, with inflammation/auto immune stuff involved. Recovered, came back to work, went back to standing eventually, and did so well for about 2 months.

Now I cannot make past half a day of standing (with breaks). My ankle is swelling in the evenings again when I have any kind of day--lazy days, walk-filled days, dog walking, gardening days, or trying to use my standing desk days. I am not an "eXtreme" kind of person who spends the weekends mountain climbing and the rest of the week working laying down or anything. I try to be moderate and consistent with my activity.

I have really squishy mats at work, and I try to do all things as ergonomically as possible. I wear good shoes when I walk and run, unless it's a casual walk to a nearby shop in sandals or flats.

So, my question: has this happened with a sprain of yours? What helped? Any idea what was causing it? I suspect this may be related to my winter sickness, which affected all my joints. I know we're all different, but this was my first sprain ever and I am wondering if I am "broken" forever. Thanks.
posted by Lardmitten to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I sprained my ankle 10 years ago, and sometimes it STILL acts up. Nothing helps, because there is no pattern that I can discern as to what causes it to act up in the first place. So anecdotally, I would vote for "broken forever". Sorry. Sprains are worse than breaks with regard to full recovery.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:38 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Try use this stuff (no, no commercial interest, but decades of experience). It's herbal. It's highly effective (also for burns and bruises).
posted by Namlit at 2:38 PM on June 23, 2014

Best answer: Did you do any kind of physical therapy for your ankle? When I sprained my ankle 6 or so years ago there were a bunch of stretches I did during recovery. After recovery there are a bunch of simple strengthening stretches that can be done. An orthopedist or physical therapist should be able to help a lot. I don't think it's too late to start.

Are you just having swelling, or ankle pain/weakness too? It's difficult to tell from your post.
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on June 23, 2014

Response by poster: Ah yes. Pain along with the swelling, which is what is making me sit. It's an ache, kind of how it felt while healing the first time, when I am standing or walking. Sometimes it aches at the end of the day when I am sitting too. I should have said that.

Last year I did stretching, "writing the alphabet with my big toe," contrast baths, and ramped up exercise slowly. I have been stretching again lately but maybe I need to get more serious.

Thanks for replying, everyone. I am very interested in comfrey cream now and ok with "broken forever" as an answer. :)
posted by Lardmitten at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2014

I know there are isometric, isotonic and proprioceptive exercises that are recommended for post-recovery ankles. These may be the stretches you're already doing, though.
posted by muddgirl at 3:15 PM on June 23, 2014

Exercise, like muddgirl suggests, can really do a lot to aid recovery and lower the chances of re-injury. I know, because I kept re-injuring mine until I strengthened it. After that, it wasn't until I stepped in a hole that I hurt it again and even then it was mild and I quickly recovered.

It may never be as it was before the initial injury, but you don't have to put up with "broken forever" either.
posted by tommasz at 3:26 PM on June 23, 2014

Also anecdotally, even if it's not kaput for ever, it likely takes a lot of time. I sprained my ankle solidly once and it took about fifteen years until I stopped feeling occasional twinges. Be confident.
posted by Namlit at 3:48 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I sprained my ankle (which is a really complex evolutionary kluge of a joint, so this may not apply to you) the simplest, and I believe most effective, physio exercise I was given was to hold my leg out and trace the alphabet in the air with my big toe. That's it.

But it took about 2 years for my ankle to feel 100% right.
posted by Rumple at 3:50 PM on June 23, 2014

You may have damaged the cartilage, in which case arthroscopic surgery can be helpful. You will need an MRI to detect this damage.

If you don't repair it, it can get worse leading to eventual arthritis.

(I have a similar persistent ankle injury.)
posted by amaire at 4:31 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Doctor. MRI. You may have repairable damage. No one on the internet knows exactly what is causing your pain because lots of things can cause the same symptoms.
posted by mzurer at 5:57 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The thing that jumped out at me was your mention of some sort of autoimmune disease. As fellow autoimmune person (I have rheumatoid arthritis), I know that once you have autoimmune status, almost anything wonky can happen to your body. Just a suggestion that you consider some sort of autoimmune arthropathy may be occurring and ask your physician's about that and also be alert in case any further joint symptoms may occur. Good luck!
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:40 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Echoing SweetTea! My broken ankle was okay for a while and then decided to go all athritic at me at once. In addition to ice after exercise, stretches, ROMs, I've found topical NSAIDs make a big difference. I'm using a scentless diclofenac liquid; it's also available as Voltaren gel (which is highly stinky). Mention to the doc!
posted by Jesse the K at 6:55 PM on June 23, 2014

I think I spent half of middle school on crutches from constantly spraining my ankles. It seemed like I could sprain my ankles just by thinking about them.

The problem with sprains is that you've injured the ligament, which has minimal blood flow, which means it takes a looong time to heal (need blood to bring the good healing stuff to the injury site). And because the ligament is damaged/weakened, it can't do its job of holding two bones together very well, and it can get reinjured easily.

Twenty years later (after lots of walking in Europe in dying shoes), I thought I had sprained my ankles again - pain and swelling, but no improvement with rest/ice/NSAIDs. Doctors couldn't find anything. Then I found out about trigger points and brought the pain and swelling down myself. It was not fun to do, but it worked.

Given your bout with autoimmune issues, see a doctor and have them rule out anything serious. If you get the "Everything looks fine - it's probably musculo-skeletal", and you've done the rest/ice/NSAIDS routine, you might give the trigger points a shot.
posted by sazanka at 9:21 AM on June 24, 2014

I recently learned that an old bad ankle sprain had actually caused some cartilage damage to the talus bone of my ankle. It's an osteochondral lesion--basically a pothole in my cartilage. I also have a bunch of bone spurs in the joint. It didn't begin hurting until about five years after the original injury!

Any number of problems can be causing your ankle symptoms. Go see a doctor if you can.
posted by bennett being thrown at 9:26 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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