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Medical Tent: Ankle injuries, self diagnosis and who can help

By Dr. Lisa Marie Erikson D.C.

Often one may find themselves lost or injured while on the way to becoming healthy or enjoying their favorite sport. This can easily make you depressed or push you to give up your active lifestyle and many decide to just sit it out with their leg in the air and don’t get help when they need it, or they go to their MD and exist on Aleve for a few weeks. Get help or not, see a doctor or not, these questions are important.

Patients will sit on a broken leg until it is half healed and then decide to have it checked out (way to late) or they will lightly sprain it and head in to the doctor because they are injured. It’s hard to know what to have seen or not, but here are some brief (and hopefully helpful) guidelines for deciding whether to go in for a visit and who to visit when the time comes.

Sprains, falls or trauma are often a cause for seeing a doctor. You can limp around on your foot, but if you cannot bear weight on it (like walk without crutches), have a loss of motion, feel tenderness on any bony spots, or if it starts to swell, you most likely need to get in to see someone. A joint that swells and bruises will immobilize you (as in your ankle no longer bends) and if you leave it that way, without caring for it, most likely your joint will never bend correctly again as you allow the joint to form mass amounts of scar tissue.

As a sports chiropractor, my job is to go into the joint, look for major damage (maybe shoot an x-ray to be sure) and start getting that joint going again. Easy motions can be done at first, with icing, bracing and proper homecare you most likely will be on your way in no time. Not icing or wrapping your ankle will give you an enlarged (and ugly) ankle which does not heal as fast and keeps you out of what you love best... fitness.

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A word for the wise: In this day and age of self-education, many go to WebMD or try to self diagnose themselves off websites and I have seen this backfire repeatedly. People self diagnose themselves off what information is present on the website or page and with little training in the structures and the way that the joints and muscles are inter-related, they may “self-diagnose” themselves with heel pain instead of Achilles tendonitis (or rupture) and with a Morton’s’ Neuroma or Plantar Fasciitis which never gets better because the reader does not know how to remove the cause and not just the symptoms (the pain duh) in their foot.

This is why you need to see a professional. A doctor is trained to diagnose and evaluate your symptoms so please see one first before deciding any further. For money saving tips you might decide to go to a small doctor building instead of a major hospital as the cost of x-rays will be cheaper and care might be more high quality as they have a lower volume of patients and more face-time with you. As for types of doctors to visit, there are doctors of physical therapy, DPT, Doctors of Chiropractic (DC), or even your basic medical doctor, (MD) who are all able to help you with this starting point.

Lisa Erikson is a sports chiropractor and endurance athlete in Boulder, Colorado.

Visit her LifeSport Chiropractic Rehab Clinic website.

Lisa Erikson

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