Chronic Pain From an Ankle Sprain: When and How to Seek Help From a Nerve Specialist

There are few injuries as synonymous with “I really didn’t expect this to happen” than an ankle sprain.

Whether you were charging the field during a game, going out on a run, or simply getting on with your day at work, something just suddenly goes wrong. Your foot lands on something you didn’t expect, or you take a hit that sends your ankle in a direction it was never intended to go.

How Long Does a Sprained Ankle Hurt For?

Most ankle sprains are minor enough to heal with an elastic bandage or over-the-counter ankle brace and some home care. After a severe sprain, an injured ankle may require some professional intervention. In the most severe cases, ankle sprains that include tears in a ligament or even fractures of the surrounding bone may need surgical treatment.

However the story goes, it is supposed to end with the pain eventually going away.

But what about when it doesn’t? How do you maintain good muscle strength, avoid further injury, and regain a normal range of motion? 

That is when the story can take some long and frustrating turns.

chronic nerve pain specialist

Seeking Answers for Chronic Ankle Pain

Finding the source of chronic pain and regaining full strength after a sprained ankle is not always simple. Unfortunately, you may be in for a trying journey after the initial injury phase has passed.

Your Initial Care Provider Might Not Have the Training Needed to Understand the Cause of Your Pain

The first step on this journey should be consulting with your primary care physician or the specialist or surgeon who initially treated you. However, they may not always detect the source of the pain.

You might be told that they do not see anything wrong with your ankle. And, to their credit, they may not. The body is extremely complex, and a doctor whose specialty is in orthopedics, for example, is trained to see problems in muscles and bones. They may not know where to look for other potential causes.

That is little solace for someone who is in pain, however. How can they not know the cause of your pain when you feel it so readily? It may be a burning, tingling, or numbing sensation with a stiffness that makes it hard to move. You might feel hypersensitive to the point that sheets or shower water running against your ankle may set off a shot of pain. Socks or closed shoes can also be torture. How can something that has become such a terrible part of one’s life not be obvious to find?

When You’re Looking for Pain-Free Ankle Function, Pills Aren’t the Answer

In some cases, it might feel like an orthopedic specialist is blowing you off, or relegating you to pain management. Medications can help, of course, but they don’t cure the problem. Not being as active as you wish to be can lead to depression and deteriorating overall fitness. This can lead to additional health concerns. 

So, when do you consider branching out in your search for answers?

After an Ankle Injury, Time Is a Factor

The fact is that, sometimes, pain does continue for a while following recovery from an injury or surgery—at least for a longer time than one might expect. Pain can naturally last as much as six months, depending on the circumstances surrounding the ankle injury, treatment, and rehabilitation period.

Now, does this mean you should sit and wait half a year to do anything about persistent pain? If it hurts to bear weight on your ankle, should you suffer in silence? Should you avoid activities you enjoy because you’re worried about chronic ankle instability? Certainly not! This is when it is time to consult with those who have had a direct influence in diagnosing and treating your sprain.

If you have already done this, however, and they have not found a solution, and it has also been more than six months that you have been in pain? Then it may be time to consider whether there is a nerve-related issue at hand.

Potential Nerve-Related Causes of Ankle Sprain Pain

Nerve specialists may look for several possible causes of chronic pain following an ankle sprain.

Nerve Damage From the Injury

Nerves can stretch, tear, or pinch during an injury. Swelling can also put pressure on the nerves and lead to pain.

If you have not had surgery, we will often determine whether you are experiencing peripheral nerve entrapment. In other words, a nerve may be compressed against a bone or other tissue.

This entrapment may not be in the area of the ankle itself, but elsewhere along the path of the nerve system. In addition to the inside and outside of the ankle, other known locations of such entrapments include the foot, back of the knee, and top of the knee. Although a direct injury to the ankle caused the sprain, it is possible that a location elsewhere was also affected.

Damage During Surgery

If you have had surgery, we may search for areas of entrapment above, but it may also be possible that nerve damage occurred during the procedure—literally sliced as part of the surgery—or may be entrapped in scar tissue that developed before the ankle completely healed. It is also possible in some cases that the pain can stem from a condition with the spinal cord.

What to Expect When You Meet With Our Baltimore Nerve Specialist

When we perform a physical exam, we will review your full medical history, including previous studies and procedures following your ankle injury. We will also take the time to listen carefully to your description of your symptoms and how they affect your life. The ultimate goal is to help you as much as we are able to or to direct you to someone who can help if your problem does not fall under our realm of expertise.

We Help Ankle Sprains Heal

It is not fair for someone to have to endure pain and not receive answers for some time. If this describes your situation, you are not alone.

One of our patients twisted her ankle at work. She was diagnosed with a torn tendon and had surgery performed by a podiatrist. This, however, did not improve her condition. She then went to an orthopedic surgeon who revised her surgery. This helped somewhat with her pain, but not fully. Further care included physical therapy and wearing a boot for six months, but these did not solve the problem, either.

After a year, she was referred to our office, where we discovered a nerve issue that was responsible for her continued pain. While the orthopedic surgeon had performed their job to the best of their abilities and resolved the problem as it pertained to her torn tendon, there was also a nerve problem that they were unable to identify. The patient received surgical care from us.

We also have further success stories from others who have received help from severe pain following a sprain. One such story is below; others can be found in our testimonials section.  

If you would like further information on what we may be able to do for you concerning chronic pain after an ankle sprain or other injury, you can read more in the free digital guide we have on the topic. Request your free copy of Nerve Pain After an Ankle Sprain (Even if You've Had Surgery) today.

Contact Our Baltimore Nerve Doctor to Put a Stop to Chronic Pain and Find the Relief You Deserve

Dr. Eric  Williams has been a full partner at The Dellon Institute in Baltimore, Maryland since 2010, dedicating the majority of his time to caring for nerve injured patients. He treats patients throughout the Greater Baltimore area at our Towson office. Call us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Eric H. Williams MD
Specializing in reconstructive surgery and pain relief in the Greater Baltimore area.
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