Undeterred from running by the coronavirus pandemic? As long as you pay attention to social distancing rules, knock yourself out!
But what if you sprain your ankle? You may have even less enthusiasm than normal to go see your doctor.
Some foot and ankle injuries don’t require a doctor. But others do. And when you truly need a doctor’s help, but don’t go and get it, that makes your injury worse and keeps you off your feet longer.
You might also be concerned about going to your doctor’s office where many other people go. You could have a slightly higher risk of getting coronavirus, despite your doctor’s best disinfecting efforts.
So, how do you make the judgement to go and seek medical treatment for your ankle injury versus simply staying home and using rest and ice?
Here’s points to consider:
1. If You Repeatedly Sprain Your Ankle
You may have experienced an ankle injury some time during your past. That injury might have weakened your ankle.
And since that time, you may have sprained your ankle many more times because of its loss in stability.
Even if you do just minor sprains which take a day or two to heal, you may want to visit a foot and ankle doctor.
Repeatedly spraining the same ankle can degrade the cartilage to the point where you eventually get arthritis.
Improving the stability of your ankle now so you keep your cartilage intact and don’t have painful and incurable arthritis later is worth it.
2. When to Stay Home
If you sprain your ankle and you know the pain will pass in a day or two, you probably don’t need to see a foot and ankle doctor.
The injury simply isn’t severe enough. You can get by just fine with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) formula for recovery.
Avoid putting any weight on your ankle for 48 hours (rest). Apply an ice pack every 2-3 hours in the 48 hours following your injury (ice).
Wrap your injured ankle snugly (but not too tight) medical bandaging to keep swelling down (compression). Finally, simply elevate your injured ankle above your heart, which reduces pain, throbbing, and swelling (elevation).
3. When to Definitely See Your Doctor
If you’ve injured your ankle before, or if you’re familiar enough with pain to know that your ankle won’t feel almost completely better within 2-3 days, then you should see a doctor.
Ankle injuries with pain lasting longer than just a few days are severe. You could also have torn ligaments, or even broken your ankle.
It’ll likely take at least a few weeks for you to get somewhat back to normal, and possibly longer.
So, now you know how to make the call. But hopefully, you don’t find yourself in a situation where you have to.