Frequently Asked Questions

I thought I sprained my ankle and the doctor agreed but it's not getting better. Something doesn't feel quite right. How long should I wait before going back in to the doctor's office for a second look?

Ankle injuries can be very challenging. Anatomy of the foot and ankle structures is complex and can fool even the most experienced clinician. Most experts agree that when a patient says something isn't quite right, a second look is warranted. Make an appointment as soon as possible. Let them know at the appointment desk that this isn't a routine follow-up visit so that you can get in sooner than later. An early and accurate diagnosis is essential in preventing further complications. The goal is to restore full, normal ankle motion and leg function. Additional imaging studies may be needed. Plain, two-dimensional X-rays aren't always able to show subtle injuries to the bones and joints. Sometimes weight-bearing or stress X-rays are needed to show instability or collapse of the bones where damage has occurred but isn't seen on a nonweight-bearing film. CT scans may be needed from a variety of angles to see soft tissue structures in the transitional zones. This zone is the area where the foot meets the ankle. Anytime symptoms last beyond the expected time for healing or symptoms are out of proportion to the injury, further evaluation is required. MRIs and bone scans may be needed to confirm the possibility of a stress fracture. Treatment may be changed once the final diagnosis has been made. This depends on what the physician finds on re-examination.

Joseph X. Kou, MD, and Paul T. Fortin, MD. Commonly Missed Peritalar Injuries. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. December 2009. Vol. 17. No. 2. Pp. 775-786.

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