Hey Dr Blake,
Thanks so much for the advice. By the time I received your email, the X-ray facility was closed for the weekend so we moved on. We got back on the bikes and I was able to pedal big miles and hike small miles, but your advice of X-ray did haunt me a bit. The stable motion of biking caused me almost no pain at all, but my ankle did worsen after one 5 mile hike...it really exposed the pain and weakness of my limited range of motion. I haven't been improving much since that setback. I can walk on even surfaces with zero pain, but it is painful if I bear weight at a slightly different angle (stairs, kneeling, dirt roads, etc). It has been just over 4 weeks since injury.
Last question, I promise...should I see a doctor? Do you think it unwise to continue my very slow self-healing program of limited activity, occasional ice, and gentle ankle stretches?
Thank you as always!
Dr Blake's response:
I probably would definitely get an ankle brace if you can to stabilize the ankle for walks on uneven ground and keep soaking in the Ocean 10 minutes at least at a time to control the inflammation. Not sure if you need to see a doctor to get a brace, or some other supplier. You should get one where the sock part of the brace is loose, and there is some form of tightening you can do with velcro or laces that you are in control of the tension--which will vary throughout the day. The fact that you can walk without any pain on even surfaces is a good indicator that their is no major break needing surgery. You may have irritated some cartilage or ligaments which will take some time. Small hairline fractures after an ankle sprain can take a year to completely get comfortable. A brace to protect, cold water soaking for anti-inflammatory, and maintaining a pain free environment as best as possible should do the trick. Rich