Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sprained Ankles Suck

I'm 41 years old and I've never been injured, unless you count the time I fell off the Fire Engine bars in the playground in 3rd grade and split my chin open.

I've been playing soccer for over 10 years and I've never been injured. Don't get me wrong, I've gotten hurt a lot. As you know, I have a tendency to take a ball to the face at least once a season. I also get knocked down a lot. Many times I've thought that I was injured only to find that there was very little pain left when the adrenaline of the hit/fall/kick wore off. I have a very low pain tolerance so any little hit hurts like the dickens. But never has any of my hurts equaled a full blown injury. Until now.  :(

I sprained my ankle playing soccer on November 11th. I was running next to a guy who was taking the ball toward our goal. He's really, really good with a very strong shot. I stuck my foot out in front of the shot to block it. I blocked it alright! My foot wasn't quite on the ground as the ball hit it and the force of the ball turned my foot inward causing me to land on my ankle instead of my foot. I heard a loud 'pop' as I went down and I knew I was done for. No one noticed that I was injured, not even the guy who shot the ball or Jace (the goalie) who saw it all, because there was no contact on the play. Play continued until I got Jace's attention for some help to get me off the field.

When I finally got to the bench, the other players determined that it wasn't broken since I could wiggle my toes. (Is this even true?) That sounded good to me because that meant it was just sprained and being uninitiated into the world of sports injuries, I was sure that a sprain was much better than a break.

I wish.

The next two days I couldn't put any weight on my ankle at all. I was on crutches for most of the time, though I have to admit that they slowed me down way too much so around the house I either hopped or crawled. It was faster!

This is how swollen it was initially. Finding shoes to wear to work was a problem! 

I limped for the next month. It was ridiculous. A friend at work loaned me a boot to stabilize it but it was too big and the rubbing on my calves was so painful that I stopped using it.

It was taking forever to heal. After 6 weeks the swelling had barely gone down. I finally went to Urgent Care ($140 after insurance). They did an x-ray and verified that it wasn't broken. They gave me prescriptions for two pain meds even though I told them the pain wasn't that bad at all, I was just worried because it wasn't healing. The next week I went to an orthopedist ($74 after insurance). I was in his office for a total of 3 minutes! 30 seconds of that time was taking off my shoe and sock. He felt around my ankle, declared it sprained, told me I didn't need physical therapy and there was no need to ice it and to resume regular activity. I told him my regular activity was soccer and hiking. He got annoyed and said "regular activity within reason" and left. 

A week later I had an appointment for a check-up with a potential new doctor (my regular doctor quit practicing to become a full-time instructor). This doctor was awesome. She was incredulous that an orthopedist didn't give me any follow-up care guidelines or any instructions at all. She gave me a list of exercises to do to regain range of motion and to strengthen it. She told me to take ibuprofen and to ice it after activity.  She recommended two braces to wear, one for regular day-to-day and one for soccer/hiking/running.

For almost three months I've done nothing active. Well, I did limp my way through Rugged Maniac because it's such a fun race and since it was the week after the injury I figured it hadn't healed enough to be causing any regression. After that, though, I didn't do anything. I didn't walk the dogs since they have a tendency to pull when they see a cat or smell a good smell or even just when they have to pee, and my ankle wasn't strong enough even to take that. I didn't play soccer (obviously) but I did go to almost every game and stand on the field so that the teams wouldn't forfeit. I wasn't able to hike. I wasn't able to run. I wasn't able to do anything. It was very frustrating! I gained 10 pounds in less than 3 months. That is sad. I packed away my skinny clothes and dug under the bed for the storage box of my fat clothes. I'm glad I saved them or I'd have nothing to wear for work!

In the last two weeks, I have started being able to run with my brace on. It's a limping run with only about 2/3 of my usual stride, but it's something. I've gone hiking a few times but I've only done flat hikes; I don't think I'm quite ready for climbing any summits. The ankle still hurts. I have a limited range of motion. But, it's slowly getting better. I'm looking forward to the day when I can jump again!

Sprained ankles suck.


Craig Brandenburg said...

Life isn't always so swell.

Unknown said...

eat foods high in potassium, like bananas, avocados, apricots, spinach, honeydew, cantaloupe, potatoes, etc to aid in preventing cramps; breath in your nose and out your mouth while running (it really works); and stretch before running (after your warm-up) and after you're done.
Dpm Podiatry High Point Nc