I sprained my ankle pretty good one week ago, I was in severe pain and went to the emergency room. They gave me ice compresses, pain meds and a splint to stabilize my ankle.
A week later, the swelling has not gone down; there's considerable swellng on the outside of my ankle where there is a dark bruise along the length of my foot. Today when I woke up there was new swelling and bruising on the inside of my foot, and other parts of my foot have become discolored as well.
Is this the normal part of the healing process? I have no idea, and nothing I've been reading seems to be conclusive. Should I still be wrapping my foot and/or wearing the splint? I can put 90% of weight on my foot but there is sharp pain if my foot is twisted or bent in any way, and it feels unstable in general. I've been elevating my foot each evening for two 30-minute sessions.
It can be normal for the fluids (swelling) and blood (bruising) to move around within the foot (generally down toward the toes). However, if you are icing it and keeping it elevated and all that stuff and you still haven't seen any improvement or don't see any in the next week, you should probably go back to the doctor and find out if there is anything else going on. Did you have x-rays taken when you went to the ER? If not, there could be a small fracture in there. Even if they did take an x-ray, sometimes small fractures are very hard to see on x-ray when they are fresh, and don't show up until a week or two later when the healing process has started. Take it easy, and good luck.
I think you should keep it wrapped if you still have pain and it hurt to put pressure on it. I agree with the others that you need to go see a doctor as soon as possible. Have you had x-rays taken? If you suffer a sprain usually they will take x-rays. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and had x-rays and am now in a boot for a fractured ankle. Even if you had x-rays and they came back negative have someone look at it like a specialist. My other sprained ankle had x-rays come back negative so I didn't go to a specialist until much later and ended up having surgery for something that was missed in the x-ray. Good luck.
I would also recommend getting an xray, just to be safe. However, unless there is a serious fracture, sprains normally swell and bruise more than fractures. Chances are you just have a bad sprain... they take a long time to heel and feel better. Good luck!
I think this sounds like the normal healing process. But, I agree with others that you should go see an orthopedic specialist and you should be referred to a physical therapist. I suffered a grade 3 sprain and now have an unstable ankle with a lot of pain, associated problems and am having surgery to repair in a week. When I had my bad sprain I only went to the student health center at my university. My OS specialist told me that if I had rehabbed right there would be a pretty good chance I wouldn't have all these problems.
You may want to find an OS that specializes in feet and ankles.
Thank you everybody, your advice and sharing is much appreciated!
After 12 days, my ankle is still pretty swollen, but not as bad as before. It hurts a bit to flex my foot, point my toes, and move my foot from side to side. I am wearing a new brace that I bought; it's this velcro thing that wraps around my ankle, and that seems to help. I am walking very carefully all of the time, especially on stairs, but still putting weight on my injured foot and trying to walk as normal as possible. The pain seems to vary from day to day, actually, up and down.
A few of you recommended and orthopedic specialist; I am wondering how necessary this is if pain and swelling is just part of the healing process? I am afraid to go to one and have him/her say "You're fine, it's just a sprain", but then again I don't want to 'underreact' and end up with problems later. Is it possible the torn ligaments won't heal up properly?
I would suggest going to a specialist. It probably is a sprain, which is serious. In many respects a sprain can be worse than a fracture. Don't be embarrassed to see a specialist.
Obviously, a sprain is torn ligaments. There are nerves in those ligaments that tell your foot/leg where it is in space. This is called prioperception. When the ligaments are torn sometimes those nerves are damaged. What may happen is that you will end up stepping down wrong on it in the future due to lack of prioperception.
It is also important to regain strength and range of motion which will also help prevent future sprains.
A specialist may decide to send you to PT to rehab your ankle. Without proper rehab the chance of you spraining your ankle again increases.
I suffered a grade 3 sprain 15 years ago and was not advised with respect to rehab (I went to the student health clinic). I have continued to sprain it 5 to 10 times a year (about 10 years ago it stopped hurting though). My continued sprains have led to a bone growth, beginnings of arthritis, a recent injury that tore my peroneal tendon and severe instability. I am having ligament reconstruction surgery in 4 days. My OS told me that I should have been prescribed PT 15 years ago and/or had this surgery a long time ago.
With respect to your progress from the sprain - it can take a long time - hang in there You are wise to use an ankle brace and be very careful for a long time as well.