I think the most common injury we see in the foot and ankle is the ankle sprains that occur on the outer side of the ankle. It is one of the most common injuries that any orthopedic surgeon sees.
These occur when somebody lands on the outer side of their ankle and the foot turns under and all of the structures on the outer or lateral side are under strain.
Then we can get soft tissue injuries which are typical sprains and bony injuries which are fractures.
People think of all ankle sprains as being benign but like anything, there are mild, moderate, and severe injuries. They will cause different amounts of swelling, and different amounts of bruising, and may have different treatments based on how severe they are.
There are some bad sprains that can occur in the foot and ankle that require surgical treatment right off the bat but the vast majority of typical inversion ankle sprains even the high-grade ones that may include a complete rupture of one or more ligaments most of those can be treated non-operatively and will go on to a pain-free stable ankle.
If treated properly the ones we end up operating on are usually the more chronic problems, this is my third sprain, I've been through bracing, I've been through physical therapy, and it keeps giving out on me. Those are people that may need surgery but we try to approach all lateral ankle sprains on the outside of the ankle not operatively at least initially.
I don't think every minor tweak to the ankle requires a visit to the orthopedist but if there's significant swelling, if there's significant bruising, and especially in an inability to bear weight, that warren's coming to see us and getting some x-rays and having it evaluated.
We certainly want to be careful, look where we step, and remember that our muscles and our tendons that move our joints are also stabilizers and they are important to keep us from inverting our ankles.
All muscles and tendons are important but if you especially work on the two tendons that are in the back outside of your ankle called the perineals they are your main stabilizers that prevent inversion injury.
There are exercises you can do with rubber bands to strengthen them, physical therapy can help and if you truly have an unstable ankle it wouldn't hurt to have a brace when you're out, especially on uneven surfaces.