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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Ankle Sprain with Significant Ankle Problems: Email Advice

Hello Dr. Blake,

You had helped me immensely through a long sesamoid recovery 7 years ago. In the end, I made it through to fully healed with no pain! For anyone with bad sesamoid injury, you can and will make it through the nightmare!  It can be done. 

Unfortunately I return with a new issue. 2 weeks ago I twisted my ankle stepping off a curb. I had some pain, though the majority of that pain went away in a few days. Then a few days later i was pushing my kids in the stroller up a steep hill (I’m new to the Bay Area) which put my ankles into intense dorsiflexion. I started getting pain the day after and was not able to dorsiflex, but Especially plantar flex without pain in my ankle (in the back). I was able to walk on it for the next week,  but had to limit dorsiflexion to avoid pain. After seeing a podiatrist, I was recommended to wear a boot (talk about PTSD from my sesmoid injury). The majority of my pain is on the lateral side, right behind and under the boney bump of the ankle (fibula). 

Nothing showed on x-ray, which I’m starting to realizing doesn’t mean all that much.  Today I got MRI results back and was hoping you could help to interpret and provide your thoughts? Photos attached.  I clearly have a talar dome issue (cartilage), though my Dr. seems to think that’s been there for a long time. For a long time I’ve always had some minor stiffness and pain in this ankle, but it always went away after a few minutes of getting ready in the morning. I’m assuming that what that is. But since that issue is more on the medial side (whereas my pain is lateral), is it possible that’s not the driver of most of my current pain? Or could a lot of this be due to that and I will need surgery?

My Dr believes the majority of the pain is from the sprains (ligaments) that need to heal. Though I see some remarks in my MRI about “stress reaction” which makes me think that there is possibly a stress fracture, but for some reason that didn’t make it into the MRI’s concluding remarks. What are your thoughts?

The Drs plan is to stay in the boot and revaluate after 4 weeks? I also know better and will do contrast bath.  

Does all these seem reasonable?  I “feel” like there is enough pain to possibly be a fracture, but can’t tell if it’s ligaments and soft tissue issue we’re dealing with here. How long of a healing process do you think I’m really facing?  I just want to set the expectation for myself, my work, and my family correctly. 

Thank you,

Dr. Blake’s comment: thanks for the update on your sesamoid. You have a fragile ankle, and someday you may have to have it cleaned out, possibly bone graphed or replaced. Someday! I see people all the time that sprain their ankles and wake up a sleeping giant, which you could have done. You have to treat the worse possible scenario to protect you, so you place it in a boot for awhile, gradually wean out into a brace, gradually increase all activities and follow how the ankle behaves. With the goal of walking around with 0-2 pain as our guide, you go one month at a time. Have you achieved 0-2 in the boot? Do not let anyone put cortisone into your joint as it can weaken it further. If you get a bone scan, and it lights up, you can call this a stress fracture and qualify for the bone stimulator. That may just strengthen the bone enough to have you dodge the surgical bullet. Separate from your injury, I would get surgical consult from several orthopedist or podiatrists on what they would do if this does not improve. Hope this helps. Rich


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  4. Since the feet are bolstered in their most ideal position, ordinary foot development designs are encouraged. Any overabundance worry to the harmed plantar sash is limited and the tendon can mend and recoup.

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.