Diabetes can be a game changer when it comes to the treatment of a sprained ankle.

But many diabetics do not realize just what could happen if they have a certain condition that diabetes often causes.

You Sprained Your Ankle… and You Have Diabetes…

“If a person has well-controlled diabetes without neuropathy or impaired sensation, then treatment is not much different than an ankle sprain in a nondiabetic patient,” says Peter D. Highlander, DPM, Reconstructive Foot & Ankle Surgeon, Director, Wound Reconstruction Center, The Bellevue Hospital, Bellevue OH.

Dr. Highlander continues, “Neuropathy is a ‘game-changer’ because the person cannot sense pain normally. The ‘ankle sprain’ may actually be a more serious injury that could require surgery.

“Pain is our built-in protective mechanism against danger. Pain tells us to remove our hand from the hot stove, for example.

“Losing pain sensation as in the case of neuropathy places us at higher risk to injure ourselves.

“If someone with neuropathy twists their ankle, it is difficult for that person to differentiate pain typical of an ankle sprain versus pain associated with a broken ankle.”

• Did you fall? Check your ankles! Make this an automatic response to any fall.

• It’s not about what you feel; it’s about what you SEE.

• A broken bone will not go without swelling and bruising.

• However, when an ankle bone breaks, there’s usually torn ligaments as well, and these will cause immediate swelling. Discoloration will be right behind.

• If your ankle looks normal, chances are it’s not broken.

• But if it’s swollen or discolored/bruised…you need to get it examined even if you don’t feel any pain.

• Check your feet every morning, because an ankle sprain or fracture can occur even if you have not fallen.

“I have had many neuropathic patients walk into my office after an ankle injury,” says Dr. Highlander.

“These patients assume they merely suffered a sprain because it doesn’t hurt to walk on the injured ankle.

“X-rays often tell a different story and may reveal a badly broken ankle which often requires surgery.

“In a nutshell, if you have neuropathy and suffer even a seemingly minor injury. or there is unexplained swelling or bruising, you should be evaluated by a physician and have X-rays.

“After a formal diagnosis is obtained, treatment of ankle sprain or any ankle injury differs significantly in patients with neuropathy.

“It is highly recommended that if you have neuropathy and suffer any degree of trauma to your foot or ankle, that you are evaluated by a physician well-versed in surgical and non-surgical treatments for neuropathic injuries.”

Here is additional information about diabetic neuropathy.

Dr. Highlander provides advanced treatment and prevention options for lower extremity wounds with a special interest in deformity correction and soft tissue coverage for non-healing wounds.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/ ARZTSAMUIdiabetes, broken ankle treatment