Five Causes of Ankle Sprains that We See in Winter
Ever wonder about the injury behind the cast when you see someone with one – was it a biking accident, skiing, sky diving? Well, some injuries are actually the result of innocuous actions – like slipping on a bit of mud or stepping off a curb wrong. Here are the top five causes of ankle sprains that we see in the winter.
Sprains frequently occur when weight is applied to the foot on an uneven surface. This can quickly cause the ankle to roll or turn. It can happen anytime a person is walking over bumpy ground, but it’s especially likely to occur when walking around potholes or curbs. So, put your phone in your pocket and focus on the path in front of you.
Uneven ground is one problem, but you can run into trouble even when you’re in a smooth parking lot. Ice can be especially dangerous as the slip can accelerate the fall and can cause the foot to go in any direction. Just because you can walk on your ankle after a fall, doesn’t mean that you should or that you shouldn’t seek medical treatment. If you slip on the ice, go see your doctor. Walking on an injured ankle can make it worse and lead to future problems.
You’d think if your ankle was encased in a stiff ski boot, that it would be immune to injury. However, that is not the case. You can seriously twist or damage your ankles while skiing. Initially it will be swollen and bruised, and you shouldn’t right it off as a simple sprain. Have a professional take a look and advise you on the best way to treat the injury so you can get back to the slopes.
With all the dangerous sports out there, you’d think that basketball was one of the safest – and maybe in the big picture it is. However, basketball players are at highest risk for sprained ankles. These sprains can range from minor injuries that cause some pain and tenderness to extreme pain and instability. Either way, players should rest and ice their ankles and seek expert advice for the proper medical treatment.
The last of the top five causes of ankle sprains in winter is an often-overlooked hazard – Christmas lights. Christmas is a special time of the year and it’s fun to get into the holiday spirit. But it’s also important to exercise the proper amount of caution and self-preservation. Get a sturdy ladder, work with a partner, make sure you’ve got footwear with a good grip and, maybe, know when good enough is good enough.
There are a lot of ways you can injure your ankle, beyond these top five reasons for winter ankle sprains. So be smart out there, and be careful, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your winter activities and traditions. If you find yourself with a new limp, get yourself into the doctor.
Dr. Kennedy is currently the clinical director of the running clinic at Hospital for Special Surgery. He graduated from Royal College of Surgeons in 1989 and has since practiced in both Ireland & the U.S. He specializes in osteochondral injuries, Achilles tendon injuries, ankle instability, and ligament reconstruction and has a primary interest in lower limb surgery, particularly sports-related injuries.