Dangers of an Untreated Sprained Ankle

Dangers of an Untreated Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles are one of the most common orthopedic injuries. Whether you twisted your ankle when playing tennis or fell when you missed a step on the stairs at home, an ankle sprain disrupts your life for a few days. 

Sometimes you can treat minor ankle sprains at home using the RICE method (rest, ice compression, elevation). However, if that strategy doesn’t yield results and you have significant pain and swelling after a day or two, it’s time to seek orthopedic treatment. 

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Shults with Coastal Empire Orthopedics treats many ankle sprains. He’ll get you back on your feet when it’s safe. Medical treatment is essential to ensure your ankle heals properly so you’re not at increased risk of other injuries. 

Don’t push through or ignore the pain; try to walk when it hurts. You could have additional damage, such as a torn ligament or stress fracture. Untreated ankle injuries can lead to the following complications you don’t want. 

Additional damage 

If you have a minor ankle sprain but try to walk through it, leaving it untreated, you can sustain more severe damage that takes longer to heal. That defeats your purpose in trying to ignore the injury. A minor problem can morph into a torn ligament that doesn’t heal properly or a severe sprain. 

Chronic instability leads to increased risk of injury

An untreated sprained ankle can lead to chronic ankle instability. The outer side of your ankle is weak and can cause your foot to roll over, causing you to lose your balance. You may have chronic weakness, pain, and swelling in the ankle. 

Repeated ankle sprains lead to chronic instability and increased risk of another sprain. Each subsequent sprain weakens the ligaments. 


Proper medical treatment helps ensure your ligaments heal so you don’t develop instability. Chronic ankle instability can lead to the premature onset of arthritis in the joint. You don’t want a degenerative joint condition at an early age. 

Hip and Knee issues 

Untreated ankle injuries can cause pain in your hips and or knees. A foot or ankle injury changes your walking gait. You’re compensating for the weakness on one side. This places more pressure on the knee and or/hip. 


Being able to maintain your balance is critical in avoiding injury. You want two strong ankles. Chronic instability from an untreated ankle injury leaves you with a weak ankle.

Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment through our online portal today if you have musculoskeletal pain and for all of your orthopedic needs. 

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