If you’re a baby boomer getting back into fitness and sports, you should get your ankles checked for chronic instability caused by injuries that might not have healed properly years ago.

Many Boomers who suffered ankle sprains in their younger years could be at risk for more serious damage as they age and try to stay active. It is estimated that one in four sports injuries involves the foot or ankle, and a majority of them occur from incomplete rehabilitation of earlier injuries.

Pain isn’t normal in the ankle, even if you’re just getting back into shape.

Swelling is another symptom that these previously injured ankles may experience. Both amateur and professional athletes often misunderstand how serious a sprain can be, and they rush back into action without taking time to rehabilitate the injury properly.

An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These ligaments are like rubber bands that stabilize the ankle and limit its side-to-side motion. When these ligaments are stretched or torn, which can happen for example, when the ankle is suddenly twisted, a sprain results.

A fracture can also occur when the foot is rolled under and the ankle is twisted. In this case, one or more bones may break or the ligament may pull a piece of bone off when it tears.

A sprain that happened years ago can leave residual weakness that isn’t noticed in normal daily activity, but subjecting the ankle to rigorous physical activity can further damage improperly healed ligaments, and cause persistent pain and swelling.

For anyone hoping to regain past athletic fitness, it’s recommended that you have that old ankle injury checked out before becoming active again.

Some sprains are severe enough to strain or tear the tendons on the outside of the ankle, called the peroneal tendons. Research shows that more than 85 percent of athletes who had surgery to repair a torn peroneal tendon were able to return to full sporting activity within three months after the procedure.

Peroneal tendon tears are often an overlooked cause of lateral ankle pain. Although surgery for athletically active patients shouldn’t be taken lightly, surgical repair of the peroneal tendons has shown to be very successful in helping athletes with serious ankle problems return to full activity.

Persistent pain and tenderness after a sprain, especially if the individual felt a ‘pop’ on the outside of the ankle and could no longer stand tiptoe, might be a warning sign that the tendon is torn or split. The injury is best diagnosed with an MRI exam.

Some people have come into the office with neglected or old ankle fractures that the patient thought were only sprained. Many have been told the myth if you can walk on it, it is not broken or fractured. This myth is incorrect and false.

If you have persistent pain after injuring your foot or ankle and have tried resting, icing, compression and elevation, then it might be time to have your injury further assessed and examined.

Depending on the injury and your threshold for pain, it is possible to walk on a broken foot or ankle. This can make the injury worse and can lead to serious complications. Stay off an injured foot until you can have your foot or ankle evaluated.

The more often one injures their foot and ankle, the more often the injury increases in severity. If you are unstable walking or roll your foot or ankle often, you may benefit from an examination.

Some ankle sprains can result in foot and ankle joint arthritis. If your foot and ankle is prohibiting you from doing the activities you would like to do, there are things we can do to help. There are good both surgical and non-surgical options. One should not have to live with pain with every footstep.

Dr. Brandon Bishop is a board certified foot and ankle surgeon with Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry in Roseburg. For information call 541-229-2663.

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