Sprained ankles can have long-lasting effects

By Shayna Brouker • Published: October 24th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Which is worse — a sprained ankle or a broken leg? Most people would say a sprained ankle is more benign, but a new study shows a twisted ankle may have long-lasting effects on overall health. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that hold your bones together are snapped or strained.

A study from the University of Kentucky surveyed more than 3,500 adults, 1,800 of whom had suffered an ankle injury. The results were somewhat surprising: Forty-six percent of sprained ankle victims said they experienced limitations in their daily activities, compared with 36 percent who hadn’t sprained an ankle. Thirty-eight percent also reported moderate to severe pain versus 27 percent of those who were not injured. Researchers even found higher instances of heart or respiratory illnesses in people who had injured their ankle compared with those who hadn’t.

What’s more, 9.8 percent of people with past ankle sprains suffered arthritis of the ankle versus just 1.8 percent of those who were never injured. So all told, sprains are not inconsequential.

Experts says the findings highlight the need to take sprains more seriously and properly rehabilitate an injured ankle. That starts with using ice packs and elevating the ankle to reduce swelling. Then, it’s crucial to give the ankle enough time to rest and heal. It’s not overkill to use crutches during this time, and start a rehabilitative regimen when you’re ready. Try writing the alphabet with your feet, balancing on one leg and light jogging to strengthen the ankle. For long-lasting health, ankles should be healthy, too.